Accountants frequently speak of wanting to be trusted advisors for their clients, and the COVID-19 crisis provided a crucial test of that aspiration. So how did they do? More than 100 MPs weighed in on client feedback and other revelations in the wake of the pandemic in IPA’s latest pulse survey.
One of the topics the June survey covered was how, exactly, firms stepped up to help their clients navigate the economic downturn, and, given what they know now, what new or existing services they might focus on going forward.
It’s clear that the single most important service most firms could provide in the immediate wake of the crisis was consulting on various aspects of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications and forgiveness, with 73% of survey respondents tabbing PPP work as their most valuable service based on client feedback. In fact, the only other option with a double-digit response rate was providing general COVID-19 resources and information at 13%.
In retrospect, though, could better general business planning have made a difference for some organizations that wound up getting hit hard by the pandemic? Perhaps additional consulting around things like cybersecurity, cloud-based services (for more efficient remote work), disaster/crisis management and cash flow management would have been helpful for some clients. Many survey respondents obviously thought so, with 42% indicating they will be more aggressively marketing/promoting some of these existing services they believe would have helped clients during the past few months.
Meanwhile, it was a 50-50 split among respondents as to whether they were planning to market new services as a result of the pandemic, with those in the “yes” half of the field looking to focus on things like turnaround/restructuring services, data analytics and cash flow consulting/forecasting.
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