GETTING TO KNOW OUR ASSURANCE PRACTICE…

GETTING TO KNOW OUR ASSURANCE PRACTICE…

Recently, we checked in with Laura Lin, Assurance Partner, to introduce our assurance practice and discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our clients and colleagues. In addition to Laura’s assurance role, she also directs our Small Business Accounting practice.

Laura works closely with Sara Kelley, Assurance Partner, to offer a robust array of client services, including financial statements and employee benefit plan audits. Whether it’s an audit, review, compilation or agreed-upon procedures, our hands-on collaboration with clients facilitates a clear understanding of business operations and the complex issues that arise daily.

 

 

JY: Since the very beginning of your career, you likely spent 95% of your professional activities either at the office or at a client site. Based on the recent upending of physical space and distance protocols, how’s the new balancing act between work and home now that you’ve fully transitioned to working remotely?

 

Laura: Well for starters, having a set schedule for lunch and dinner helps. We have a family rule to pause our work or homework and gather at the dining table. My husband and I alternate the dinner responsibilities. He’s a good cook, while I frequently take a shortcut by ordering from food delivery services. My 14-year old daughter also pitches in to help prepare our lunches, and she even bakes cookies once a week 🙂

 

 

JY: In what ways do you find it different now that you coordinate all the various steps of a client’s workflow digitally or “over the air” as compared to simply walking over to your colleague’s desk to bring about a quick fix or solution? Do you find that being physically away from the office slows you down?

 

Laura: Surprisingly, our workflow isn’t affected as much as initially anticipated. While our transition to working remotely came about somewhat abruptly, our ongoing investments in the best world class technology enables us to remain focused on client deliverables without having to learn new skills. We have embraced best practices and learned some tricks from our colleagues who have been working with us remotely for many years. We know that frequent communication among clients and teammates is essential. Our assurance colleagues regularly connect in group chat rooms and Zoom meetings (but I still miss being able to gather with everyone in person). And we’ve found that more clients have come to rely on the various online tools offered in the client portal section of our website.

 

 

JY: In the last decade, as a matter of flexibility and efficiency, leading firms have taken a proactive approach to provide opportunities for employees to work remotely. Now that all of your colleagues are remote, have you noticed any dents or negative impacts around feelings of engagement or belonging among your team? Have you found any particular ways of keeping the engagement level high?

 

Laura: We know that work assignments create opportunities to engage and collaborate across a team, but it’s all of the non-work-related things that connect colleagues in more personal and emotional ways. This part is a bit more tricky to maintain, but we have embraced many of the tools available to us. For example, I use Microsoft Teams to chat with managers and other employees, and I like to start these conversations with some small talk in the morning – just like we used to do in our break room or around the office. We share posts about cooking and exercise, pictures of our kids and pets and we also make fun of each other’s hair… And Zoom happy hours are now a thing.

 

 

JY: No one should be expected to know what the future holds, not even an accountant! But we can’t help but wonder about one activity most often associated with financial statements: fieldwork. In what way do you feel this key engagement process has been affected in our new normal?

 

Laura: We love any opportunity to spend some time with our clients. But in consideration of their safety and that of our employees, my assurance clients have learned and adapted quickly, right along with us. They’ve figured out ways to gather and share supporting documents with us. Some of them are beginning to use our portal, while some have relied more on online vendor accounts to generate reports, such as payroll and banking statements. Moving forward, I expect that more clients will embrace our process of sharing documents with us online. Ultimately, this would be a win-win by allowing us to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time focusing on procedural requirements and other more pressing client needs.

 

We invite you to find out more about Laura Lin and Sara Kelley. Our assurance practice team is available to assist with all of your financial reporting needs.