The accounting profession and the coronavirus: The crisis in numbers

While the coronavirus pandemic has created work for many in the accounting profession in the form of advisory services related to business continuity, and new opportunities to help clients get the most they can from federal government stimulus programs like the Payroll Protection Program, it has also put undeniable stress on individual firms, as they work to go remote overnight, manage uncertain revenues, look after the health and wellbeing of their staff, and still act as their clients' most trusted advisors.

To understand the pandemic's impact, Accounting Today conducted a survey in the third week of April, sponsored by ADP, asking specifically how firms have responded in terms of their staff, their operations and more. Highlights of the results appear below.

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Projecting declines — for now
Interestingly, while the overall group expected a relatively significant contraction in the next three months, they expect growth to be more or less flat within six months.
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A pause in the war for talent?
Fortunately, only a relatively small number of firms seem to have let staff go — primarily at larger firms, with industry experts estimating that roughly a quarter of the Top 100 Firms have experienced layoffs.
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Many are still open
The fact that many states have declared accountants "essential workers" helps explain why many still have their offices fully open, with only a relatively small number (13 percent) having completely closed their physical locations.
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Sending everyone home
Only a small number of firms reported being unprepared for the need to send staff home, though just under half said that, though they were able to support remote work, it had come with some challenges.
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Helping clients
The profession's "essential" classification is no doubt due in no small part to the role they're playing in helping their business clients survive the pandemic. Almost three-quarters of firms are offering services related to the CARES Act, with the vast majority revolving around applying for the Payroll Protection Program.
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Mixed models for charging
The most common method of charging for COVID-19-related services was simply not to charge at all, with a third of firms offering them for free.
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Reaching out
The scope of the crisis and the complexity of the government stimulus packages have firms significantly upping the frequency and range of their efforts to stay in touch with clients.