Members in Practice dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak

Mar 18, 2020

 

Chartered Accountants in practice like everyone else, are rushing to keep up with the speed of the spread and impact of the COVID19 outbreak, in the knowledge that the worst is yet to come. Practising Accountants are key advisers to the business community, and never more so than now, when businesses are struggling to respond, and they turn to their accountants for help and reassurance. The challenge is to stay ahead of what is a very fast-moving situation and be in a position to give the best advice to clients.

When the immediate demand might be to stay in contact with worried clients, don’t forget that your first responsibilities are to yourself, your own business and staff. Make a plan and plan to change it. Plan scenarios that assume progressively more or less restrictive environment going forward. Plan for staff non-availability due to illness or quarantine.

So far as possible, most practitioners and their staff are working from home. You may find that your systems were not designed to cope with all staff working from home, or other current demands, but now is the time to formulate new solutions and workarounds. Encourage staff to contribute ideas. In many cases, work practices may need to change extensively. 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 it is typically carried out at clients’ premises. See the advice below from the FRC.

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. 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? Is there work that you can prioritise where clients will be in a position to make payments? Engage with your lenders. We will bring you more information as it becomes available to us regarding the main banks’ response to the crisis.

Clients expect and demand your advice and support right now, and your relationship as trusted adviser was never so important. The same advice applies, as above, that 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. In some cases, supply chain issues and staff unavailability are difficult but manageable challenges. On the other end of the spectrum, some clients have been forced to close their doors, and in some cases businesses may not survive. Your expertise, judgement and experience are now invaluable to them as each client deals with their unique journey through the crisis.

Familiarise yourself with the resources that are available to help you through the crisis. Below are some key links.

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. If there are specific issues where you need help, or if you want to share ideas or insights, please contact us at the following

Conal Kennedy +353 1 637 7396 and

Jeremy Twomey +353 1 523 3972

 

Important links:

Chartered Accountants Ireland Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and Institute contact information

https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/about-us/coronavirus-(covid-19)-advice-and-information

 

FRC guidance for auditors arising from the coronavirus pandemic.  FRC recognises that, given restrictions on travel, meetings and access to company sites in some jurisdictions, audit firms may need to consider developing alternative audit procedures to gather sufficient, appropriate audit evidence.

https://www.frc.org.uk/news/march-2020-(1)/frc-guidance-for-auditors-arising-from-the-coronav

 

FRC guidance on Audit Issues arising from the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic

https://www.frc.org.uk/news/march-2020-(1)/guidance-on-audit-issues-arising-from-the-covid-19

 

CA Support

https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/CA-Support/Home

 

ROI: Enterprise Ireland:  COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Business Response Plan - supports for business

https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/About-Us/Services/Covid-19/Supports/Covid-19-Guide.pdf

 

ROI: DBEI Business Continuity Planning Checklist of preparatory actions in responding to COVID-19

https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Publications/Reports-Published-Strategies/Business-Continuity-Planning-Checklist-Covid-19.pdf