After you let clients know that you’re still operating, nurture the knowns before venturing into the unkowns

By Steven K. Howell, CPA, CFP, MBA | SCACPA Member Since 2018

The economic and social situations brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will most likely change the way we operate for quite a while into the future.

These changes in our respective marketplaces will go far beyond seeing sustained use of virtual and digital client interaction. The turmoil will force a reset on what products and services clients find value in and what businesses find useful to provide.

CPAs now have the opportunity to ask the tough questions and seek the elusive answers. There are two sides to navigating through an economic downturn: managing in the low periods and effectively taking advantage of the recovery. Think about the things we can all do now to help with both sides of that management equation.

Sustain Client Engagement

Maintaining current clients and protecting known revenue sources is probably your first priority. You may need to be both sending out mass communications and personal touches to specific individuals. Revenue is hard to replace, so nurture the knowns before venturing into the prospective unkowns. Let clients know that you’re still operating, even if it looks and feels differently. Perhaps this a good time to layer in some of your own personality into communications to give clients a stronger sense of connection.

Reconnect With The Essentials

It’s now more important than ever to be fully in touch with every aspect of your firm or business. A company is more than its product offering –take this opportunity to understand your client demographic segments, your expense picture, and your long-term goals.

Only with a full base of knowledge can you make sound decision of where you presently are and where you hope to be.

Enhance Your Strategic Position

Where does your firm fit into the marketplace? If you don’t like the answer, there’s no better time to make changes. Strip the services that do not fit your strategic arch, and add services that do. The economy will recover, and when clients start to re-approach the table, it will go a long way to show that you took time to evolve along with the crisis, rather than just survive in spite of it. In my own practice, I’ve been referring to this process as “adding arrows to the quiver.”

Focus on Employees

Remember that your employees’ own orbits of life have been disrupted, too. Eventually all Americans will know someone who experiences the effects of this medically or economically – or personally experience it themselves. Create and foster atmospheres of understanding, even in virtual work spaces; encourage employees to focus on their mental health, if necessary.

Look for the Bigger Story

It can be difficult for all of us to look beyond the circumstances of our immediate situation. However, being able to do that provides a healthy space to adequately process what is happening around us. Take pride in your organization’s resiliency; find gratitude despite the immediate circumstances. These techniques are not utilized often enough by business leaders, but they help offer a sense of perspective and allow you to see things for what is.

There are so many unknowns still left to face. But the world and the economy will recover, and we will beat this virus – we just don’t know how long that will take.

If you’re able, make your firm the best it can be so that when the world does start turning again, you’re on the other side ready to work more efficiently and with more purpose than before.

Steven K. Howell is the Vice President of CCA, a wealth advisory firm located in Rock Hill. He lives in Charlotte,