CPAs are meeting the moment when it comes to small business relief. This is a new advisory service for the profession, one that will last through 2021 and 2022, in terms of lingering pandemic impacts. Beyond that, I firmly believe funding options will continue to be a valuable category for CPAs to explore with their small business clients. To do it right, though, firms need expanded capabilities and tools.
Throughout 2020, the AICPA and CPA.com have been providing resources and guidance to CPA firms on relief developments, particularly those related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Here’s some of the things we’ve done since March:
- Advocated for fast, effective small business relief both as a solo organization and as the leader of a small business funding coalition we organized
- Offered key advice to Treasury Department and Small Business Administration officials on improving guidance to the PPP and other relief programs
- Stood up a page of valuable PPP resources and recommendations that is constantly updated by experts within the AICPA’s firm and tax management sections
- Organized regular AICPA Town Halls (which offer free CPE for members) on the latest PPP developments and related matters that have provided timely updates and insight to thousands of members each session
- Created calculators for PPP loan applications and PPP loan forgiveness
While all of these steps have been helpful, it became obvious that small businesses and the CPAs who advise them needed more. In July, we partnered with fintech leader Biz2Credit on a free tool to process a master report for PPP loan forgiveness applications. And in September, we worked with Biz2Credit again to create a business funding portal (CPALoanPortal.com) for CPA firms that expect to handle forgiveness applications from multiple clients, as well as new applications from a potential second round of PPP funding.
As Congressional negotiations on business relief advance, we’re advising you to reach out to your small business clients proactively to build up your firm’s capabilities. Once “PPP2” is authorized, something we strongly advocate, that groundwork will pay off.
CPALoanPortal.com has several features that can help, including:
- A free basic service for small businesses or those of you advising only a few clients
- A more robust set of fee-based tools in a single platform to help you manage multiple clients in a standardized way
- Upfront integration with leading payroll providers (with more providers being added regularly) to intake data automatically from official payroll reports
- Access to the power of AICPA technical input and calculators
- Payment of agent fees for firms registered for one of the paid plans available through the platform (assuming this is permissible in PPP2, as it was in the original PPP)
Once the pandemic ebbs, we see the business funding category evolving into a routine part of the advisory services that CPA firms offer their clients. CPALoanPortal.com will evolve, as well. These kinds of tools and solutions will help you deepen your relationships with clients and broaden your roles as trusted advisors.
Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO, CPA.com