As clients struggle, Mazars creates PPP Analysis Tool

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As the centerpiece in the federal government’s small-business relief efforts, it may not be much of a surprise that the administration of the Paycheck Protection Program has been confusing and frustrating, in part because of just how many businesses need aid. In response, Top 100 Firm Mazars USA created a PPP analysis tool to help small businesses calculate the amount they are eligible to receive before submitting the application.

“We saw the complexities of the CARES Act, including the sometimes mutually exclusive aspects of particular relief programs,” explained Alisha Jernak, a senior manager at the firm. We knew that our clients would need to assess which was the best alternative for them. ... We wanted to create something that would allow them to see what the best and worst case scenarios were so that they had the tools and knowledge to make the best business decision during a difficult time.”

The PPP aimed to provide businesses with a loan of up to $10 million to address the damage caused by COVID-19, covering eight weeks of payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The loan was intended to be a lifeline for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees struggling with a very challenging economic environment. Mazars designed its PPP Analysis Tool to help businesses optimize the greatest loan amount while maximizing loan forgiveness under the provisions of the CARES Act.

The PPP Analysis Tool was built entirely internally, but not without considerable time and effort, Jernak said. The first step was to properly understand the CARES Act, which was just signed into law on March 27. Mazars pulled expertise from different service lines within the firm to define and clarify its objectives with the new tool — and then, as they developed the solution, they needed to keep up with the additional guidance and clarification on the PPP as it came out.

The rapid development of the tool is representative of what accounting firms across the U.S. are demonstrating during the coronavirus pandemic: having to create solutions, technological or otherwise, at an extremely fast pace to respond to their client’s sudden need for guidance through business interruption. Mazars’ approach of consulting experts from diverse groups within the firm to create a solution that anticipates the changes in the regulatory, economic, medical and social landscape is one that firms of its size — over 40,000 professionals in 91 countries — are well-equipped to take.

“We saw the model tying into our role as a trusted advisor to our clients,” said Ryan Vaughan, director at Mazars USA. “We suspected the relief would be fast-moving, and we wanted to position our clients to make the best decision given the small window. We designated a core group which was instrumental in analyzing the CARES Act and providing input to the model development. Additionally, we have utilized this team as a rapid response team to assist colleagues across the firm as clients proceeded into the PPP application.”

The Analysis Tool, which is being delivered as part of Mazars’ advisory services, has been received well by firm clients, Jernak and Vaughan reported. The firm has conducted several webcasts and created a series to educate potential clients on the PPP, the process of calculating the loan proceeds amounts, and the IRS forgiveness component — another area that keeps changing. Each webcast is followed by a separate one-hour presentation to address questions. The firm reports more than 2,000 attendees so far, with some webcasts generating hundreds of questions.

Mazars continues to work on solutions around the COVID-19 crisis for its clients.

“We have a core team that has been working around the clock to stay in front of all COVID-19-related updates and will continue to look for solutions and ways to help our clients navigate through these challenging times,” Vaughan said.

The PPP Analysis Tool is available for a one-time purchase and can be downloaded here:

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Coronavirus CARES Act Innovation Accounting software