Ohio CPA survey: Pandemic disruption widespread

Written on Aug 20, 2020

OSCPA staff report

Almost all Ohio Certified Public Accountants have experienced a disruption to their business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey conducted by independent research group Avenue M on behalf of The Ohio Society of CPAs and 17 other state CPA societies.

The survey conducted in May was launched to capture the concerns of and challenges faced by CPAs during the early months of the pandemic. Respondents include partners, shareholders, sole practitioners, C-Suite executives, staff members, controllers, corporate accounting and finance professionals, and government employees.

Although 53% of Ohio CPAs report business has moderately or greatly decreased – and 17% have reported a reduction of staff – business has greatly increased for 24% of those who specialize in managerial/corporate accounting/finance roles.

A small, but significant number (6%) of OSCPA members are experiencing complete disruption to their work from COVID-19. This is the same as the benchmark average (6%) from nearly 15,000 CPAs polled across 18 state societies. Individuals working in the education/academic sector (75%) or the not-for-profit sector (62%) are much more likely than their counterparts in any other sector to indicate COVID-19 has been extremely or completely disruptive to their workplace. Individuals who work for companies with 101-500 (45%) or more than 500 (47%) employees are more likely than their counterparts at smaller companies – single-person companies specifically (19%) – to find COVID-19 highly disruptive.

Among the Ohio CPAs surveyed, 38% of the education and not-for-profit segments anticipate it could take more than two years before their work returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, compared to just 8% of respondents overall who thought it would take that long.

Those who work for a not-for-profit are more concerned with reevaluating their budget and business plans to ensure long-term stability (77%) than CPAs in other sectors. Compared to other sectors, those in public accounting are more concerned with helping clients/employers meet government deadlines (53%) and collecting tax info from clients (43%).

OSCPA members were more likely (17%) than the aggregate group average (13%) to indicate that COVID-19 has greatly decreased their business operations.

Employees’ health and safety are a top concern; in response to the contagion, 18% reduced their staff at the physical office and 16% moved to an entirely remote workforce. Other actions taken include rotating shifts in the office, and premium pay for essential onsite staff.

OSCPA President & CEO, Scott D. Wiley, CAE, who spearheaded the national study, said the Society has worked hard to be responsive to the study’s results.

“We recognize that these uncertain times have been especially challenging to our members and their employers, which is why we’ve developed a number of initiatives to help CPAs in their efforts to get businesses moving again,” Wiley said. “From advocating for commonsense legislative and regulatory reforms to developing a back-to-work guide to offering complimentary CPE for our new Town Hall Series, our OSCPA team continues to find ways to help members succeed despite the pandemic.”

The OSCPA survey had a margin of error of +/-3% at the 95% confidence level, exceeding the industry standard margin for member research studies of +/-5% at the 95% confidence level.