I was unprepared for the rapid changes in the private practice accounting field that quickly escalated to the largest backlog of work we’ve ever seen. A scan of peer feedback indicates that we are not alone; other private firms report the same current struggle. 2020 and 2021 were difficult but manageable for our practice. 2022 can only be called a crisis as we head into the year’s first tax payment and compliance filing deadlines this month.
This post is not meant to examine the underlying causes of changes (that may be more complex than we understand right now), but rather lay out the fairest and most logical approach to move forward. These are our current resolutions:
- Existing engagements will not be affected. If you have a written signed engagement agreement, work plan and any activity, and have made at least one payment, then the rest of this page does not apply to you. If, on the other hand, we discussed our plans and I offered an engagement that was not actually executed and paid for, then these crisis measures below do apply. These changes do apply to any additional new work.
- Work scheduling will be less tightly structured. That simply means that I am more likely to say something like “this month” rather than “this week” when writing the work plan to address the current work backlog. All work scheduling will continue to be agreed in writing in a work plan.
- Minimum fee standards will be enforced. No more discounted or free services will be offered. Instead, for those who have trouble paying current fees, we made an arrangement to donate accounting services through Raising Nonprofits, a 501(c )(3) charity. Otherwise, current pricing applies to new engagements.
- Prioritizing prepaid work. In fairness to those who are waiting for service interrupted by this crisis, priority scheduling will be offered to those who have prepaid a fee. We cannot predict which valued clients will face a change in business plans in a crisis like this so the only safe approach for us is prepayment of fees and costs for all clients.
We understand that the current situation may temporarily block some smaller businesses and nonprofits from professional accounting services that we used to be able to serve in the past. Of course we will continue to look to adapt new cost saving and time saving technologies to help return to a more stable and sustainable service environment as soon as possible. I feel confident that a technology-assisted redeployment of our nation’s accounting resources to address this crisis relatively quickly over the coming months.