2 min read February 2022 — Withum is a leading public accounting firm that grew by 20% over the pandemic while providing key tax, audit, and advisory services to help clients navigate the economic headwinds. An important part of that growth was the firm’s diversified industry sectors, Partner Russell Goldberg told Invest:. He also discussed working with potential clients looking to relocate to Florida from out of state.
What have been the successful strategies Withum has implemented during these unprecedented 18 months?
In the early stages of the pandemic, our firm experienced a huge decrease in cash receipts. As a result, the firm’s leadership made a decision to alleviate any financial burden on employees by not reducing any salaries, with some shareholders taking a 10% decrease in pay. Ultimately, PPP and other legislation was passed and we became a leader in navigating our clients through those processes. We had team members to assist our clients in applying for PPP loans and other government assistance.
How has demand for specific services changed?
We have 18 industry verticals, with very few negatively impacted during the pandemic. Specifically, our Financial Services group has experienced an increase in demand and our Hospitality niche exceeded expectations as coastal destinations continued to attract tourists during the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, we expected business to go down, but at the end of that fiscal year, we were very fortunate to learn that we grew by 20%.
How are businesses doing with the PPP forgiveness process?
At the beginning of the PPP, we started an SBA group that met every day and sent a daily newsletter to clients to update them on PPP issues. Initially, there was a lot of confusion around the loans because the first round was used up quickly. People felt they had to run out and get those loans but, ultimately, all the funds were not used so all our clients were able to go through the process. We encouraged clients to take their time for forgiveness as the SBA developed more clear guidance on the process
Do you see new challenges with taxes for different businesses?
Florida has no individual state income tax and a very low corporate income tax rate which makes the state attractive for business relocation. But in states like New York, there are onerous restrictions and qualifications to leave for other states. So, we have a specialty group to help clients who want to move here. To that end, we help clients make tax savings calculations to move here and optimize their State and Local Tax (SALT) compliance and create strategies for how we can minimize their corporate tax or individual income tax.
How has the labor shortage impacted the accounting sector in Central Florida?
It is a significant challenge to have an aging population that is retiring and is larger than the number of younger generations graduating and entering the workforce. In the accounting industry, it gets worse because, years ago, industry leaders predicted they would not need as many people as automation and AI technology would take over. They carried this messaging to colleges, which reacted by lowering the number of accounting graduates. Needless to say, that prediction was incorrect. Even though we have AI and machine learning, people are still needed just as much but in different capacities. There will continue to be a shortage, so our profession needs to work harder to attract top talent to a changing profession.
What is your outlook for Withum over the next three to five years?
From a post-pandemic perspective, we are going to see more people working remotely so we do not envision having a fully staffed office every day. There is a supply and demand issue where our clients’ need for accounting is going to be larger than the availability of advisers to perform the services. We do not see machines or AI replacing people. Those technologies will change how we do business but there will still be a need for people to do the work and utilize the technology to make their jobs easier. As we continue to see more companies across diverse industries relocate to Central Florida, we anticipate growth for several of our industry groups.
For more information, visit: