As we inch closer to what might be considered a post-pandemic world (or at least a post-first-wave world), business owners and their employees are anxious to get back to work. Marred by layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions, these companies are finding that reopening sustainably is not a simple task. Many businesses, particularly in retail fashion or the service industries, are necessarily investigating the viability of brand new business models. Closing storefronts and shifting to e-commerce platforms, or weighing the cost of menu items with a new socially distanced dining room has business owners reaching out to their accounting firms and consultancies with a simple question: what would you advise? Normally at this time of year, the mad dash to resolve Q4 financials and assemble tax documents comprises much of the work for accounting firms. This year, those comparatively straightforward processes have compounded under the reporting requirements and financial stressors created by COVID-19. Firms are necessarily pivoting personnel and resources to picking through the complicated fine print of federal support for businesses and its deployment and reporting requirements. Demand is high for sound, strategic advice from trusted finance and accounting firms and support in an advisory capacity from the perspective of financial management is more valuable than ever. While people eagerly await the opening day of their favourite restaurant or shop, the work of getting businesses back up and running has long since begun behind the scenes. Accounting and finance are always aspects of business management which require high quality expertise and this is especially true when managing assets in an uncertain time. As such, now is the time to begin building relationships and offering assistance to businesses in need of accounting support. Creating these beneficial relationships today will get accounting services to those who need them now and will continue to pay dividends in the future for consultancies and clients alike. COVID-19 has proven how deeply connected the health of our economies are.
“For those in public practice, CPA firms are not only helping their clients but their own practices to stay viable,” says Anthony Pugliese, the CEO of the California Society of CPAs. “Meaning, what CPAs are learning to help their clients minimize loss and expedite financial recovery is also helping their firms stay economically viable by using the same actions.” (1)
The importance of providing high quality accounting services to businesses, especially in this unprecedented period, is critical for both accounting and finance consultancies as well as their clients.
“CPAs need to be proactive in client interaction and to be the facilitator of meaningful and swift action to save their clients, to save jobs, and to save Main Street businesses,” says Joanne Barry, the executive director of the New York State Society of CPAs. “They have the tools to help clients pivot to new opportunities and to help them survive short-term business challenges.” (1)
The economic stakes of managing our post-pandemic economy are high, with MacLean’s reporting that “Canada’s economy may never return to what it once was.” (2) Maintaining a diverse consumer economy is crucial and accounting and finance firms need to act quickly in order to connect with businesses that would benefit from their services. Building relationships is straightforward but time sensitive; only firms that are able to successfully pivot their services to cater to the changing financial landscape created by the pandemic will be able to truly maximize both client and firm successes.
“This is an opportunity for CPAs to truly position themselves as the trusted business advisor and the go-to resource for business owners,” says Amy Pitter, the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs. “We’re seeing this with firms of all sizes; business clients need them now more than ever, and they trust them—just as they would trust a partner—to guide their businesses through this uncertain time.” (1)
In order to establish such a relationship, firms and consultancies must clearly identify potential clients—specifically, businesses that a given firm is best suited to service and shepherd through this changing financial landscape. Ramping up outreach and building an organic, authentic relationship by clearly communicating the strengths and services a firm offers is key and ensures a mutually beneficial relationship for both consultancies and clients. “CPAs are the engines behind thrusting their clients into the future and are the bridge to help them get where they need to be,” says Barry. “Now more than ever, clients need their CPAs. The help CPAs provide now will translate into lifetime client retention.” (1) Businesses of all stripes are currently in the process of reconceptualizing how to structure their finances and they need assistance. Now is the time to introduce yourself.
1 Accounting Today. “CPA Firms Rising to the Coronavirus Challenge,” April 28, 2020. https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/cpa-firms-rising-to-the-coronavirus-challenge. 2 “Canada’s Economy May Never Return to What It Once Was - Macleans.Ca.” Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.macleans.ca/economy/the-economy-may-never-return-to-what-it-once-was-coronavirus-canada/.