The Ultimate Guide to CAS Accounting

CAS firms offer advisory accounting services rather than the compliance-heavy service typical of traditional accounting firms. But, what exactly is it? Learn more here.

20 min read

The Ultimate Guide to CAS Accounting

The Ultimate Guide to CAS Accounting

By now, you’ve probably heard of CAS, CAAS, advisory accounting, accounting and advisory services—or whatever you want to call it! This trend in the accounting industry transitions to a focus on advisory accounting services rather than a compliance-heavy service.  But, what exactly is it?

We’ll break down some of these questions and other important CAS concepts including: 

  • What is CAS Accounting?
  • 5 Steps to Start Offering CAS 
  • Should Your Accounting Firm Offer CAS
  • The Ultimate Tech Stack for CAS Firms
  • 3 Skills CAS Accountants Need to Succeed

What is CAS accounting?

CAS Firms Increase Revenue

First, let’s get our acronyms straight. There is still debate in the accounting community about whether or not this model is called CAS (Client Accounting Services) or CAAS, with the extra A representing “advisory.” For our purposes, we’ll refer to this model as CAS accounting. 

Now that we know what to call it, let’s learn about what it is! Historically, accounting businesses have been focused on the compliance side of things. More recently, firms have been adopting a different model of business with CAS.  According to the & AICPA PCPS 2018 CAS Benchmark Survey Report, the 5 most common client accounting advisory services offered are: financial statement prep, accounts payable, CFO/controller advisor services, budgeting/forecasting, and payroll services.

Instead of focusing on just the nitty gritty i.e., taxes, transactions, and things that have already happened, CAS firms also focus on the future and try to help their clients stay proactive and make the best decisions for their business holistically. Think of the compliance side and the advisory side as complimentary services that go well together. Compliance is the cake, and advisory services are the icing on top. 

Instead of constantly hounding your clients for the right documents, the work becomes more of a partnership and the accountant is seen as part of the business’ team. Accounting firms looking to adopt advisory services into their strategy don’t need to offload their compliance clients—these clients are still great and it’s OK to have both advisory clients and compliance clients. 

Want to learn more about exactly what CAS is and its growth in the accounting industry? Read more here. 

5 Steps To Start Offering CAS

For some in the industry, you might already be doing CAS work and it’s time to level up and start getting paid for it! If you’re not engaging with your clients in this way (or if a client is interested in using your firm's accounting services), read the post below.

5 steps to help you get started with CAS at your accounting firm. 


Should Your Accounting Firm Offer CAS?

Historically, this industry has focused on accounting and tax services, or compliance after-the-fact services. Now, with evolving technology and a remote workforce, it’s easier for accountants to offer advice and give clients their perspective and expertise proactively. Which brings us back to the question, should your firm offer CAS?

Let’s look at the numbers. 

Clients Want CAS

The Ultimate Tech Stack for CAS Firms

We’ve talked about what CAS is, if you should implement it at your accounting firm and how to start offering CAS—now, it’s time to look a little deeper into CAS and figure out what tools any CAS firm will need to be successful.

We put together a quick guide to help accounting firms get started on building the perfect CAS tech stack. 

The best tech stack for CAS firms. 

3 Skills CAS Accountants Need to Succeed

Transforming your firm’s focus to CAS, or advisory work, for clients is no small feat—you must be committed to changing how your organization runs and be ready to say goodbye to some clients who no longer fit your new ideal client profile as you make the shift to CAS. 

That’s why any accountant looking to be successful in advisory services needs to be an innovator, curious, confident, proactive and creative—just to name a few. Want to learn more about skills CAS accountants need to succeed? Read more here.


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