Skip to main content


Accounting Firms Prepare for the ‘New Normal’ with New Practice Areas

As we’re all aware, CFOs wear many different hats, and a CFO advisory practice reflects this variety. Tailored services include: executive guidance (strategic planning, financial planning, budgeting, modeling, forecasting and reporting); tax consulting; a

Covid 19

In a very short period, the coronavirus pandemic has required accounting firms to make significant adjustments in the way they do business. Remote audits have replaced onsite visits. Billings for businesses that were once solid have been renegotiated. Zoom meetings have replaced conferences and other networking events.

With all of these changes coming from outside forces, why would an accounting firm choose to set up a new practice area now?

As Albert Einstein said: “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” 

As soon as the depth of this crisis became apparent, many accounting firms began to explore ways to support clients in different ways. Some clients were experiencing dramatic changes to their operations and did not have the existing capacity to manage the demands. Others faced significant disruptions that required rapid changes in their business models. 

As clients’ needs changed, accounting firms began to look for ways to provide new services—without having to sink additional resources into setting up new departments and hiring additional staff. Rather than spending money without revenue associated with it, many firms chose to organize existing staff and services in a different way. The goal was to not only survive, but to emerge in a stronger position.

As a primary example, some CPA and accounting firms have established business units specifically designed and tailored to chief financial officers—a CFO advisory practice, if you will. The strategy is to provide scalable support to CFOs and financial executives by doing some of the heavy lifting they may not have the bandwidth to handle, especially in light of dwindling resources coupled with economic uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

With this new service line, clients now have access to specific skills for certain projects or executive-level support, all without having to take on the additional cost of full-time executive-level personnel, bookkeepers or accountants with defined competencies.

As we’re all aware, CFOs wear many different hats, and a CFO advisory practice reflects this variety. Tailored services include: executive guidance (strategic planning, financial planning, budgeting, modeling, forecasting and reporting); tax consulting; and transaction advisory services. Additionally, a CFO advisory practice can offer IT advice and support, along with business process improvement and optimization, depending on the depth and breadth of the organization’s CFO role.

Amidst the dramatic and sudden funding response from the federal government, economic relief programs designed to help businesses remain operational and keep the workforce employed created additional opportunities for accounting firms to support their clients. Immediately CPA firms found themselves in the unique position to guide clients through the complexities of loan programs, navigating paths to stabilize employment and business continuity.

There has been a great deal of interest in how to navigate and maximize each loan program, particularly the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. Accounting firms are helping people with what has turned out to be an extremely beneficial, yet confusing process for many small to mid-size businesses. Loan forgiveness has proven to be a challenge for many borrowers, but has nevertheless allowed CPA firms to demonstrate their expertise and provide value to many of their existing clients, while creating new relationships. In addition to training individuals and businesses on the many facets of the PPP loan program via numerous webinars and articles, CFO advisory groups have even gone so far as to develop new tools, such as a loan forgiveness calculator, thereby simplifying the forgiveness application process for clientele. Proprietary cash flow modeling tools have also proven to be extremely useful.

No one knows how long it will take to return to what we used to call normal, or even what this new normal will look like. And companies who have the good fortune to return to normal operations will still be facing lasting economic uncertainty and fallout. But, one thing is certain amidst the backdrop of this changing landscape. Now more than ever, accounting firms have shown and demonstrated their worth in finding clever ways to be innovative and deliver value for those they represent.


Ryan Irby, CPA, is a partner with Weaver, a national CPA and advisory firm. As head of Weaver’s CFO Advisory Practice, he assists clients with budgeting and forecasting activities, scenario-based decision analysis, long range planning, working capital and profitability analysis, corporate restructuring efforts and cash flow modeling projects. He can be reached at