Members in Practice dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak

Apr 01, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

At the time of going to print, the situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was evolving rapidly. Members and firms that require assistance are advised to consult the Institute’s website, where a special page has been set up containing advice and contact information: https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/about-us/coronavirus-(covid-19)advice-and-information

Practising Accountants are key advisers to the business community, which is struggling to respond, to this fast-changing situation. The challenge is to stay ahead of events and stay in a position to give the best advice to clients.

In spite of the range of demands facing  you, you should look to your own practice first. Make a plan for your own practice and plan to change it. Run scenarios that assume a progressively more or less restrictive environment going forward. Plan for staff non-availability due to illness or quarantine.

Many practitioners and their staff are working from home. You may find that your systems were not designed to cope with the strains now placed on them, but now is the time to formulate new solutions and workarounds. Concentrate on what can be done and do it. Certain tasks may be impossible right now, but development work that had been put off can now be prioritised. Auditing can prove problematic, as in practical terms, it is typically carried out at clients’ premises, but also due to the greater risks and uncertainties to be dealt with. The FRC has issued guidance on this which is on its website.

You are focused on cash flow because that is what suffers first in times of uncertainty. Again, start with a plan. Bring your financial information and accounts up to date so that you know where you stand. You may be doing less chargeable work and bringing in less cash. Identify what you can change to improve your own cash flow. Identify what cost can be cut and what expenditure you can defer. Are there sources of cash that can be drawn on? Engage with your lenders.  

Clients expect and demand your advice and support right now, and your relationship as trusted adviser has never been so important. Clients should rapidly take stock of their situations, make plans for how to address issues and scenarios, and concentrate on protecting cash flow. The crisis affects clients in different ways and with different levels of severity. Your expertise, experience and judgement are now invaluable to them as your clients take their unique journeys through the crisis.  

We will continue to engage and communicate with members in practice, with further and more detailed advice, as the situation develops. In the meantime, remember that your Institute and the Practice Consulting Team are here to help you.