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Advice for a Crisis

By Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE
May 1, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has required many tough decisions from accounting and finance professionals. Throughout this crisis, IMA® has been working to help members face these challenges. I can’t think of a better example than the way our Small Business Committee (SBC) has responded with a new white paper to help small businesses cope with the pandemic. It’s truly indicative of how we can support each other during this difficult time.

 

One of five IMA technical committees, the SBC is composed of 25 members who work within or provide consulting services to small and medium-sized businesses. The committee engages with governmental agencies, standard setters, and regulatory bodies—including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Financial Accounting Standards Board, among others—on behalf of accounting professionals working at or with small and medium-sized businesses.

 

When it became apparent in late March that the spread of COVID-19 around the world was accelerating at a faster and faster pace, the SBC sprang into action. Many committee members were already receiving inquiries about how to respond to the pandemic and were developing best practices, so why not share those recommendations with the broader accounting and finance community?

 

In less than a week, the committee developed and issued Small Business Planning during COVID-19 (bit.ly/34kvSGl). While the SBC worked in tandem with IMA staff to publish the paper, it was very much a volunteer effort driven by the report’s primary authors: Heather Bain, SBC chair; V. Marcine Johnson; Evan Scarbrough; and Chris Dastoli.

 

The paper outlines a three-step plan that small businesses can undertake to help proactively manage the impact of COVID-19 on their operations: (A) Assess the current situation; (B) Build a plan by brainstorming with a team of experts; and (C) Communicate calmly, clearly, and continuously. An important aspect of communication for finance and accounting teams is documentation, which is essential in complying with various new government programs. For example, the paper explores key aspects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It also includes a COVID-19 response checklist, offering guidelines for finance professionals who are developing recovery plans.

 

The SBC is working to update the paper to address new legislation—specifically, the Corona­virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—and other evolving developments. The committee also plans a blog, with links to a discussion on myIMA Network.

 

I encourage all members to read the white paper, even those who work at or with larger companies. I’m proud of the way that IMA—its members and the organization as a whole—is responding to this crisis. As a community, we’re stronger together and will help beat this tragic pandemic by exemplifying courage, care, and conviction of purpose.

 

Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, is IMA president and CEO. He also is a member of IMA’s Bergen-Rockland-Meadowlands Chapter. You can reach Jeff at jthomson@imanet.org or follow him on Twitter: @IMA_JeffThomson.
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