Accounting Services Price Index (ASPI)

Detailed information for 2018

Status:

Active

Frequency:

Annual

Record number:

2334

The purpose of this survey is to measure the price change of accounting services on an annual basis.

Data release - December 20, 2019

Description

The Accounting Services Price Index (ASPI) is a longitudinal annual survey that collects information on the prices of accounting services.

The ASPI series is a useful indicator of economic activity in the accounting services industry, and can also prove helpful as a supplementary tool for performance evaluation, cost monitoring, contract assessment and benchmark comparisons. In addition, the indexes are used by the Canada's System of Macroeconomic Accounts to arrive at estimates of real value-added Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the industry and to measure changes in productivity.

The index measures the year-over-year percentage change in the prices of repeated services of constant-quality products. The questionnaire asks the respondent to exclude from the year-over-year price change any value that is attributable to a change in the characteristics of the service offered between the two consecutive years.

Statistical activity

These indexes are a part of the Services Producer Price Index program (SPPI) at Statistics Canada.

The SPPI program develops and produces price indexes for a number of business service categories. This initiative fills an important data gap in the area of economic statistics, has resulted in a more comprehensive set of service price indexes, and allows Statistics Canada to produce more accurate estimates of real-value added GDP and changes in productivity.

Reference period: The time period for which the ASPI equals 100; currently this is the year 2010.

Collection period: Data collection for the previous calendar year starts in June and finishes in November.

Subjects

  • Business, consumer and property services
  • Prices and price indexes
  • Professional, scientific and technical services
  • Service price indexes

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of all establishments classified on Statistics Canada's Business Register to the NAICS industry 5412 - Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services. There are three (3) industries classified under NAICS 5412 and from which the ASPI will collect data; these are:

- 541212 - Accounting services or offices of accountants
- 541213 - Tax preparation services
- 541215 - Bookkeeping, payroll and related services

The target population differs from the survey population in that businesses with an annual revenue less than $50,000, as identified on Statistics Canada's Business Register, are excluded from the survey population. This is done to reduce response burden on smaller firms.

Instrument design

The questionnaire used for the ASPI was developed in consultation with accounting firms across Canada and with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) of Quebec.

Sampling

This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

The target sample size is 600 establishments.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2019-06-20 to 2019-11-15

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Following sample selection, new survey participants (respondents) are introduced to the survey through telephone calls. During this initial phase of data collection, respondents are guided through the process of selecting representative products for which prices will be monitored. This process typically spans several collection cycles until respondents become conversant with the survey.

During the collection process, an email invitation is sent to the respondent inviting them to log in and complete the questionnaire. Subsequent contacts with the respondent take place when questionnaires are late or the responses provided require clarification. In the case of late respondents, several follow-up contacts can be made including sending out a reminder email to obtain a response.

Information about the time it takes respondents to complete the survey questionnaire is collected and monitored closely. Currently, it takes respondents an average of 30 minutes to complete the survey.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Error detection is conducted at the time of data collection and also during post collection processing, using a set of systematized error detection procedures to identify outliers and possible reporting anomalies. Records that fail these edits are reviewed for editing and correction when necessary or edit failure may trigger a follow-up with the respondent.

Time and effort is devoted to keeping the specifications constant such that only the pure changes in price are tracked. Some information are also collected in order to ensure, as much as possible, that the collected data correspond to the same specifications over time. This constant quality price then feeds into the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts' estimates of constant dollar GDP.

Imputation

Missing data are generally estimated by a systematized imputation process. In any given period, price data may not be available for estimation. In such cases, missing data are imputed using the average price movement of remaining units within the same stratum (overall mean or targeted mean imputation method).

Estimation

Prices

Prices collected for the ASPI are those charged to a particular client (net of indirect taxes) for a specific accounting contract in each of two consecutive years.

Weights

The weights used are a combination of the revenues found on Statistics Canada's Business Register and the percentage breakdown of the establishments' revenue according to the different classes of service, as collected by the questionnaire.

Estimates are produced by calculating a weighted average of price relatives by industry, which are chained together to form an index series. The ASPI is a Young chain linked index, available at the Canada level only.

Quality evaluation

An in-depth assessment of quality is conducted prior to the dissemination of estimates. This assessment is based on two key elements of quality; accuracy and coherence; as defined in Statistics Canada's guidelines for the validation of statistical outputs.

The survey's data collection strategy is designed to ensure that targeted response rates are met every cycle. Analysts pay close attention to this metric and work to ensure that the survey's coverage of the industry is thorough. Particular attention is also given to ensuring that sampled products or services are representative of actual transactions happening in the market place. These two activities, fundamental to the overall quality of the estimates, are done consistently.

Analysts also undertake additional validation activities every cycle to ensure the coherence of survey estimates. These include: analysis of price changes over time (including analysis of trends), at the business/company, industry, subsector and sector levels; certification of key contributors to price change; and confrontation of estimates against other related data sources. Contextual analysis of survey results is also performed in light of prevailing economic conditions.

Engagements with relevant stakeholders are also undertaken periodically. Forums involving other Statistics Canada analysts, industry stakeholders and partners at other national and international statistical agencies provide valuable insights that inform the development and research agenda of the program.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various transformations are applied to collected price data in the calculation of price indexes, such that it is not possible to identify the raw price data obtained from any survey participant. Confidentiality rules are also applied to price indexes that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Collected data are converted to price indexes and data are released as such, so that it is not possible to identify the suppliers of raw prices.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

The index is not seasonally adjusted. Data are available at the Canada level only.

Data accuracy

The statistical accuracy of this index depends on price and weight data. Price data are obtained from a sample survey and weights are obtained from Statistics Canada's Business Register, and both sources are therefore subject to their own errors.

The quality of the price data depends largely on the response rate and degree of imputation for the survey, and in this regard the quality of the price information is judged to be high, with a response rate of about 80% and a minimal degree of imputation.

Though the ASPI uses a sample survey methodology to obtain the necessary information, confidence intervals are not currently estimated, due to the longitudinal nature of price index series. Indexes are released only for levels of aggregation that are considered statistically reliable.

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