From the Sept. 2011 Issue
By the time you read this, I will have delivered a new presentation, “Crisis Communications: What Would You Do if BP Happened to You?” for the Kansas Society of CPAs. I was fortunate to be invited to speak during the KSCPA’s Business & Industry Expo in August to an audience of tax and accounting professionals who work in business and industry.
While this is a departure from my usual presentations to public practitioners, I thought the topic was definitely applicable to both audiences. So here are my observations any tax and accounting professional can apply, whether working in public practice, business or industry, as well as with a firm’s small business clients.
What is your role when a crisis occurs?
Many practitioners feel they are immune to being involved in crisis and disaster planning, but think again. Tax and accounting professionals have the right mix of competencies and skills that would be very helpful in case a disaster occurs – from the way they analyze numbers and plan for the future to their extensive knowledge of the company’s history, goals, technology and systems. When clients are going through a crisis, they should turn to their accountant for help. In fact, I have found that many accountants readily offer their clients proactive business continuity and disaster planning services, which, of course, is much more useful than having to put the pieces together after disaster has struck.
A crisis can occur anytime, anywhere, and it can strike in a variety of ways. This includes natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or tornadoes; man-made disasters such as arson; intentional disasters (terrorism); and vital mistakes made by a CEO or senior leadership. Disasters also include white collar crimes. In fact, according to the Institute for Crisis Management’s 2010 ACM Crisis Report, white collar crime made up 20% of the overall total for crises that occurred last year. That’s a huge number, but it’s even more encompassing when you think that when hackers steal private data, a company could, literally, be forced to shut down overnight.
Here is a 12-point checklist you can use to help clients, customers and companies with the disaster planning function. Although I didn’t invent this list (source: cgsolutions.biz), I did add and update some items based on my experience, including some of the more modern technologies we have at our fingertips.