IPA’s MP/CEO Survey: The Year of PPP

IPA’s MP/CEO Survey: The Year of PPP

As Congress begins rolling out the second iteration of its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) this week, the results of our most recent IPA MP/CEO Survey offer a glimpse of how firms worked to serve clients with PPP-related advice and assistance the first time around. Surveyed in mid-December, nearly 110 MPs and CEOs representing a wide range of firms weighed in with their thoughts and insights on how PPP shaped their workloads in 2020.

Half of respondents in the survey saw between 25% and 75% of their client base apply for the first round of PPP loans in 2020, while another 23% reported that more than three-quarters of their clients sought such aid. In terms of the types of PPP-related services their firms offered to clients, 23% of respondents said general advisory and/or consulting services – the highest-percentage response to a question that allowed for multiple responses.

Other popular services on offer were assistance with calculations/support material for loan forgiveness (21%), assistance with calculations/support material for loan applications (20%) and loan application documentation review (16%).

SOURCE: INSIDE PUBLIC ACCOUNTING

The revenue generated from providing that help and advice was certainly a bottom-line boost for many firms, with respondents reporting an average of $547,841 in added revenue from PPP-related services in 2020 – ranging from an average of over $2.2 million for the largest firms to an average of $120,000 for the smallest. Seventy-three percent of respondents calculated these fees on an hourly basis, while 14% used a fixed-fee structure (and 8% didn’t charge at all for PPP-related services). Of the fees collected, 92% were paid by firm clients and 7% by the banks involved in the process.

SOURCE: INSIDE PUBLIC ACCOUNTING

Looking back on how the first round of PPP unfolded, several respondents noted that even though their firms ended up providing solid assistance to clients, they could or should have been more proactive and gotten more deeply involved in the process earlier in the crisis (instead of waiting for clients to come to them), maybe marketed their services more aggressively (several wished their firms had produced more webinars) or even charged more for the work they did. Several leaders also wished their firms had found more effective ways to work with the banks on PPP.

And a few firms were looking less at the bottom line and more at relationships with their clients when it came to PPP, with a handful of respondents in particular noting that their decision NOT to charge for PPP-related services was something they felt good about as a crazy 2020 came to a close. “We feel very good about not charging,” said one firm leader. “These are very unusual times, and we believe the goodwill outweighs the lost revenue.”