What are the challenges faced by accounting firms due to Corona-virus.?
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What are the biggest challenges for accountants at this time?
Anthony Pugliese, chief executive officer, California Society of CPAs: For those in public practice, CPA firms are not only helping their clients but their own practices to stay viable. 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. Another challenge CPAs in public practice face is showing more value to their clients in these times of crisis — thus the importance of remaining calm, objective and open-minded and helping their clients with the new opportunities that the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act or state government economic programs could offer their organizations.
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CPA firms and CPAs in industry are being provided, almost on a daily basis, guidance on tax issues coming from the IRS and other tax authorities because of tax issues that are not only linked to updates regarding tax filing extensions but changes in federal, state and local tax regarding payroll tax, real estate and property taxes, and sales tax. All three levels of government have various levels of modification or clarification that are in motion that CPAs will need to continue to monitor for themselves, clients and companies they support.
Tom Hood, president and CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs: It is a perfect storm of four converging trends:
1. The COVID-19 crisis created urgent needs from small businesses. The biggest challenge at this moment is the urgency of helping small-business clients get access to the relief programs in the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program in particular, while in the middle of tax season. This requires firms to pivot to consulting immediately as advisors to help those businesses make it through the shutdown. Things like cash flow forecasting, financing option review, and helping businesses go online are major opportunities for firms right now. Next will be remote auditing, supporting relief loan forgiveness, and interpreting more relief packages will continue through the spring and summer.
2. Being thrust into “work from home.” While many firms were exploring flexible and remote work, the immediate shutdown forced it, and firms are scrambling to adapt and adopt new ways of working and new tools like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.
3. Rapid acceleration of moving everything to the cloud. Many firms are reporting challenges with Zoom and other visual communications systems not working well in Citrix environments. This means many firms will reconsider and speed up moving more systems to the cloud as they come up for air. Outsource and client accounting services on all cloud environments will excel in this environment.
Joanne Barry, executive director, New York State Society of CPAs: Understanding and communicating their value. 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. They have the tools to help clients pivot to new opportunities and/or to help them survive short-term business challenges. CPAs are the engines behind thrusting their clients into the future and are the bridge to help them get where they need to be. Now more than ever, clients need their CPAs. The help CPAs provide now will translate into lifetime client retention.
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It depends on the if and when there is a final post-COVID world, and it will depend on if war follows this huge economic disruption: as historically it always has done so.
Additionally, bookkeeping is now morphing into HR, Sales and many of the ‘front office’ functions of firms as ever more sophisticated databases integrate accounting functions into their processes and extend that integration into banking, reconciliation and taxation automation.
Given the many contingencies and given how far down the road to AI bookkeeping has progressed already, it might be conceivable for:
More bookkeeping outsourcing to firms like CFO Now, Accounting Solutions and CFO Solutions, etc. All these many firms provide fully outsourced accounting much more cheaply than hiring employees and bring higher caliber professionals into the mix.
Much more satellite bookkeeping and accounting in larger firms as finance generally rocks out waaay higher productivity at home at much lower carry costs for employers than almost any other business segments.
More owners taking over DIY bookkeeping with outsourcing payroll due to limited cash and financial realities in times of recovery and possibly war.
It’s going to be interesting.
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