Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read March 2021 — Elliott Davis offers a wide range of accounting, tax, assurance and consulting solutions. Shareholder and Raleigh Office Leader Marshall Stein spoke with Invest: about the opportunities the firm encountered in the past year, and how it navigated the tax policies incumbent in the CARES Act and the PPP loans.
What were some highlights and milestones for Elliot Davis in 2020?
2020 was memorable for many reasons, one of which was reaching a milestone of 100 years in business. Our Raleigh office began in 2014 after merging with a local firm and has grown to about 65 people, but we are a larger network of 700+ team members across the Southeast. The challenges of 2020 overshadowed our centennial in some regard, but also allowed us to become hyper-focused on the mission of making a positive impact on our customers, our people and our communities. We’re continuing to add resources, new capabilities and skills. One of our great successes this past year was being able to leverage technology and continue to serve our customers during a challenging time that was critical for so many people and businesses. We anticipated many issues our customers have faced and we’ve been able to help them stay ahead. We’ve built new relationships. Elliott Davis is as strong as ever and we’re proud of that.
Which of your services are the most in demand?
We’ve seen a huge uptick in consulting services that we’ve brought to the market. Especially in Raleigh, we’ve seen demand for consultation around PPP and the CARES Act, employee retention credits (ERC) and cybersecurity. With all the remote work, there is new demand for systems consultation. In the decentralized workspace, companies become a lot more susceptible to cybersecurity risks and hacking. The strength of Elliott Davis in the Raleigh market is that we’re able to leverage those resources across our firm footprint and provide value to our clients.
What has the impact of the CARES Act been on accountancy services?
That’s definitely one of the things we had to work through this year, with all the rules and guidance changing repeatedly throughout the year. When the CARES Act was first announced and the PPP loans first came on the scene in early to mid-2020, the guidance was evolving daily. Even as late as December 2020, we did not have clarity on what the impact of these rules would be from a tax perspective. Now, we have that clarity, especially on the federal level, but there’s still some uncertainty on the state impact of those. North Carolina has not yet formally ratified the taxability of PPP loans. Without getting into the minutiae of that, it’s been something of a moving target. Such reasons are why we have a dedicated task force addressing these issues. For instance, there’s a lot of money to be saved in employer retention tax credits. We see that as a big opportunity in the coming year that not many people are aware of.
What are the main concerns for your clients right now?
A lot of it depends on the industry, as the pandemic impacted businesses in different ways. Across the board, a big issue will be attracting and retaining talent. It’s always an issue, but will only be more so going forward as remote work options become more commonplace. The other thing companies will need to focus on coming out of 2020 is contingency planning. We think that there will be more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50. So, companies are going to really have to be more responsive and anticipatory of these future changes. The last key thing is succession planning. As a result of the pandemic, we suspect we’ll see a lot of M&A activity in the market, and a lot of businesses buying and selling. Having some clear direction and path for how they want to accomplish those goals is going to be very important.
Do you find cause for optimism in the current climate?
Absolutely. We have a wealth of talent, a wealth of educational resources, a lot of optimism. All of these things are a big silver lining. One of the things I’m excited about are the lessons we’ve taken from the pandemic. We’ve learned how to be more flexible, more agreeable to different work cycles and patterns. You see companies moving to a work-anywhere model permanently. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about embracing these changes. It’s exciting to think, once we get back to normal, what that normal is going to look like.
What are your outlook and predictions for the sector in the coming 12-18 months?
We expect that the next 12-18 months will see a lot more firms trying to get into the Raleigh market. We expect that the firms that are here will continue to do good things, building on the relationships that they have. We are dedicated to doing the same. We’re making a strong investment in this market. We’re excited about Raleigh. We’ve made a lot of good progress here already but we know that there’s a lot more that we can do.
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