What successful accounting firms are doing to handle the COVID-19 crisis (CHECKLIST)

April 1, 2020
We have compiled a checklist of what the most successful accounting firms are doing to help their clients-and keep their accounting businesses running during COVID-19.

Four successful accounting firms from different parts of the nation (New York, North Carolina, Colorado, and California) came together to discuss all the ways CPA firms can help businesses during the tough economic times because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have summarized their discussions here to give you the key take-ways, so let’s get after it…

Workflow:

  • Not surprising but firms who were already on cloud with their clients have found it easier to work remotely.  (If you have business clients who have resisted to go on cloud, there should be no excuses now.)
  • Most firms conduct a daily huddle in the mornings to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • To maximize utilization, firms are discovering their team’s other skills to keep them busy with additional responsibilities.  Some use their team’s available time to close any communication gaps with clients. 
  • Some firms use software like LivePlan, Fathom, and ProfitCents to help business clients get a handle on their cash flow and more.
  • Accounting Firms are targets for Cyber Security attacks by criminals who see an opportunity to take advantage of the chaos and system vulnerabilities.  Firms are taking extra measures like hiring outside cyber security experts to test the existing systems and ensure proper protection is in place.

Communication:

  • Some firms were already meeting their clients online prior to this pandemic so not a big change for them.
  • The need for self-quarantine has made everyone getting accustomed to using applications like Zoom so for the most part clients are up-to-speed when it comes to online meetings.

Finding a balance between informing clients in real-time and providing accurate information has been a challenge.  Here’s how the four firms are handling this:

  • Providing weekly webinars for business clients to have a conversation with their CPAs so that not only they get the information they need but also get their questions answered.  This exercise not only saves time for the firm but also ensures the correct information is communicated in a digestible format.  The added benefit is that business clients can get on the same call to communicate their challenges, exchange their ideas and share common solutions.
  • Providing a COVID-19 Kit which includes all information and resources a business owner may need to navigate through the crisis.  The kit includes a Flow Chart that helps the business owner go through a series of questions to see what type of help they qualify for and what resources applies to their situation.
  • A webpage dedicated to all the latest news about any local, state and federal government resources available for businesses and individuals.  The page is updated in real-time and the clients are directed to it before they get on a call with the firm.  This way, they obtain some general information before they dive in deep with their accountant. 
  • An email blast to the firm’s database that keeps everyone abreast of the latest changes in the law and how they can seek help.    

Advice to business owners:

  • Understand Your Cashflow – Gain a deep understanding of your cash flow and what actions you need to take, based on your current and immediate future cash flow projections.
  • Do not make any big decisions without being fully informed.  For example, don’t layoff your employees just yet.  There is a good chance you can get the help you need to retain them.  This will give you an opportunity to strategically think of ways to evolve your business beyond your expectations while keep business structure in place.
  • File your applications even if you think you may not need the help.  If you get approved, it does not mean that you must accept any financial assistance.  However, the process to apply takes a long time so it is better to begin the process as early as possible.
  • If your business stores a lot of your customers or clients data, obtain expert help to assess your cyber security needs.  This will ensure your organization’s data is not jeopardized and you are secure from any breaches. 

If you missed our recent webinar, be sure to check out the live recording with our four CPA panelists:

Andrea Parness, A. Parness Company: https://www.aparnesscpa.com/

Dan Whittaker, Whittaker & Company: http://www.whittakercpas.com/

Debby Miller, Phases Accounting: https://phasesaccounting.com/

Emily Fisher, Fisher P.A.: https://www.fisheraccountants.com/

Sia Kal Managing Partner

Sia Kal has spent most of his career developing business improvement methodologies for Accounting and Law firms. He has created compelling professional courses and workshops accredited for CPE, and seminars attended by hundreds of firms worldwide.

Sia has enabled hundreds of partners and their teams resolve issues that impeded their ability to achieve success beyond expectations. Sia’s passion is to instill morality and fair dealing in the business world to cultivate relationships. His key to success has been ‘putting people before profit,’ and teaching others to do the same.