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The New Norm of Compliance

We understand that in the midst of COVID-19, your audit may be the last thing on your mind.

The truth of the matter is that you can manage some deadlines and others you cannot. We understand this and will help you maintain your compliance.

Around the globe, people are finding themselves transitioning their jobs to remote environments, and accountants are no exception. Fortunately, auditors have been the poster child of remote working as we are used to operating in a space other than our home office. Because of this, we want to assure you that we are entirely operational remotely. Our dedicated team is equipped with the technology and experience to make sure we perform our client audits in a professional, efficient and effective manner. The time to plan for your audit is now, and we will support you every step of the way.

We have heard from state government agencies, lenders and stakeholders that they are working with companies and allowing a reasonable delay in deadlines. You should be contacting your funding sources, lenders and other stakeholders now to validate the deadline for your compliance deliverables and determine how much leeway you have in completing the audit. Planning is key in this endeavor. Additionally, if you have covenants/other debt compliance requirements, speak with your banker to determine if there is any flexibility in these unusual times.

The following are some tools to help you navigate through the New Normal:

Data Sharing

As we adjust to this new normal, challenges arise due to the nature of this shift in technique and the way clients provide us with all the necessary information. The availability and security of data are of the utmost importance to our clients and us. Secure file storage and sharing systems such as Box ensure the security and safety of data. Sharing your documents through a secure medium is the best practice of data security. Therefore, when working remotely, refrain from sending emails if you can organize and send data electronically.

What can you do if you’re generally “offline”?

There are a few ways to share paper documents if everything is not readily e-available.

  1. Electronically scan your documents and share them through a safe medium/file transfer system.
  2. Place your documents in a padded envelope or box and FedEx them to an agreed-upon location.
  3. Arrange for a safe pick-up from your site.

Withum implemented new technology, the Withum Experience, that catalogs information and helps organize, track and keep a real-time interface with you on where we stand. This process helps alleviate the confusion of “I haven’t seen them for a while, I wonder what they are up to” and keeps you informed of filed and open data requests.

Communication

When office meetings are no longer an option, other means of communication is key. Maintaining a strict, yet realistic, schedule of video chats and phone calls will make all the difference in your auditing experience. Utilizing tools like Microsoft Teams or other video conferencing software offer remote communication solutions to collaborate still and move projects forward effectively within your organization and with your auditors. Teams also offers file sharing, scheduling and a variety of other applications that integrate within its interface. All of which help you be as efficient as possible when working remotely. Having this internal collaboration allows you to keep things moving on your end, which in turn enables you to have the necessary information ready and on-hand during a remote audit.

How Will Your Remote Audit Look?

A well planned remote audit should consist of a timeline that is stringent enough to complete a comprehensive and timely audit, yet flexible enough to accommodate any changes in your daily life.

There are five elements to be mindful of when going through a remote audit:

  1. Secure Data Sharing: share all necessary files through a secure digital client portal.
  2. Communication: correspond frequently through video chats using a secure system, such as Microsoft Teams.
  3. Planning: perform audit procedures normally done in person remotely on schedule.
  4. Flexibility: perform remote walkthroughs via video conference and other alternative means.
  5. Technology: Deliver completed audit and related communications via secure digital client portal.
For questions or further assistance, please contact a member of Withum’s professional team.

COVID-19 Financial Statement Risks

On top of regular auditing protocols, the circumstances around the coronavirus outbreak call for some extra planning for audits this year.

Are you financially at risk? Here are some financial statement risks resulting from COVID-19 of which you should be aware:

  • Risk and uncertainty disclosures​, including potential for subsequent event disclosure on the impact of COVID 19 and forgivable loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”)
  • Going concern risk​ – requirement to evaluate the ability to continue as a going concern beyond the financial statement date.
  • Fair value measurements​ and impact on valuations, including investment valuations and subsequent declines​.
  • Depending on the nature of impact, an “emphasis of matter” paragraph may appear in your audit opinion.

#WFH

For the foreseeable future, working from home is the new normal. Investing in remote technology upfront allows for a smooth transition to working from home. While proper planning is always the goal, at times, it isn’t the main focus of business, and organizations might find themselves trying to navigate how to set up their people to work from home. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when creating a remote work environment:

  • Build a solid home work station and make it your own. It’s essential to have a dedicated “workspace” to maintain a work/life balance.
  • Obtain cost-effective technology. In the long-run, it is smarter to invest in durable tech instead of buying cheap, soon-to-be-obsolete gadgets.
  • Communicating regularly through video chats will help build and maintain comradery among your team.
  • Exercise regularly. Whether it be going for a walk or participating in an online Zumba class, getting your body moving during the day is important when we are all stuck at home.
  • Schedule breaks— designate time to separate from work and clear your head. Watch a video, read a magazine or listen to a podcast.

Learn how Brad collaborates with his team and clients while working remotely.

Do you have Office 365? Take a look at all of the products and apps included that can help you streamline productivity— like Project Planner— even from home.

Withum is here to help. We understand that these times are trying, unpredictable and unprecedented. Whether looking to make your remote work experience more productive and collaborative or finding a way to complete your audit smoother and more securely, our experts can offer solutions that make business feel as normal as possible in this current environment.

Be sure to check in with our COVID-19 Resource Center for the latest on tax updates and industry insights. For more on how to ensure your business is prepared, check out our checklist.

COVID-19 Resource Center

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