PIVOTING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC: THE WAY FORWARD By KATHLEEN HOFFELDER
NJCPA SENIOR CONTENT EDITOR
As the pandemic progressed, accounting executives began to ask the tough questions: How long will it take for my firm, our clients or my company to rebound? What are some ways in which we will be operating differently? What’s the best way forward?
FALL 2021 | NEW JERSEY CPA
Accountants overcame many challenges last year and, in some cases, altered the way they work forever. Now accounting professionals everywhere face many decisions: Keep on operating like they have been or switch gears permanently and adapt to quicker, more efficient and more reliable technology, expanded customer service and flexible hours? What worked well during the pandemic and what will continue to work afterwards? ADAPTING ON THE FLY As Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D., managing partner at Hinge, a strategy, research, branding and marketing firm, explains, many clients discovered that they can easily work with their CPA firm remotely. “At the end of the day, these adjustments brought about improvements in how we recruited, operated and delivered our services,” he said. “As with many firms, we have learned that working from home offers flexibility that can help address talent shortages.” Those who were able to adapt and initiate new offerings benefitted from the pandemic, he said. According to a June 2021 report conducted by the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) and the Hinge Research Institute
(accountingmarketing.org/publications/ surveys/cpa-marketing-budgets), almost half of firms said the COVID-19 pandemic had an overall positive effect on them. “These developments have been a boon for many firms, with over 45 percent of firms reporting a net positive business impact from the crisis. They have garnered new opportunities and found ways to get further ahead of competitors,” explained Frederiksen. MANAGERS ON THE MOVE When the pandemic shuttered offices, it also closed the gate on in-person training, onboarding and instructing. Managers had to be creative in working with staff, outlining plans and keeping on top of workloads. For CPAs, that meant Zoom calls, screen sharing and lots of chatting over Microsoft Teams and other products. As Christina White, CPA, MS, manager at Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors, explains, “In person, I could easily follow up with my team members for status updates, scheduling or review throughout the day. When the stay-at-home order commenced, and we began to work on a fully remote basis, that effortless flow of communication was also abruptly shut down.” Managers had to take a step back and evaluate the best method of working with staff and clients. White recognized early on that she needed to identify problems as they arose and implement changes to daily routines if working from home was going to be successful. “I quickly found that establishing more formal and scheduled
CONTRIBUTORS (in order of appearance)
LEE FREDERIKSEN, PH.D.
CHRISTINA WHITE, CPA, MBA
NICOLE DeROSA, CPA, MAcc
Managing Partner Hinge
Manager Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors
Senior Tax Manager Wiss
KEN HUFFMAN, CPA President CPA to CPA, Inc.