Each new year comes with a New Year’s resolution, and this year ours is quite attainable: resolve to build on what we learned in 2020.
Last year, we learned what’s most special about our firm beyond the expertise and talent of our auditors, tax advisors, business managers and consultants is the soul of Armanino — our community. I’ve seen people at every level of the firm who truly care about the business, about our clients and one another. They are committed firm-first professionals, and I am grateful that in true Armanino spirit, even in a tough year, they met every challenge head-on in the face of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic and social crises that touched the conscience of everyone.
And we learned about how people at Armanino met the challenges in an unprecedented business environment. For years, we have talked about being innovative, entrepreneurial and a true partner to our clients; to be agile in times of volatility and to really embrace change as a way of doing business, not just as a survival tactic. While I have always believed it, in 2020 I got a front row seat to seeing it firsthand. Across the board, we elevated ourselves by being totally committed to our client relationships. We saw many clients facing uncertainty and financial challenges turn to us in ways they hadn’t before, counting on us to help them navigate choppy waters.
There are things you can control and things you cannot, and how you respond to unexpected challenges is what tests the steel of an organization. Coming into 2020, we had big strategies and a roadmap of how to get where we wanted to be. However, crisis forced us to narrow our focus to what mattered the most: keeping everyone safe and helping our clients respond.
Within days of the initial shutdowns, we put together a COVID-19 Resource Center and Rapid Response Team to triage issues that threatened our clients’ sustainability. And we got to work becoming experts on PPP loan compliance and HR policy consulting in line with CDC recommendations to help clients face their most immediate and critical needs: cashflow and safety.
We also learned that people will push themselves to go above and beyond to meet the needs of the community. Whether it was building a COVID Recovery Tracker with our Data & Analytics team, volunteering to build an antibody test scheduling program for healthcare workers from scratch in a crunched timeframe, or raising funds for frontline causes through the Armanino Foundation, people not only stepped up, they took the lead. When our annual in-person volunteer day was disrupted last spring, we made it virtual with remote community service and raised $75,000 in relief funds for healthcare organizations in our communities.
What got us through 2020 was our adaptability. It’s in our firm’s DNA, and we have invested in building the infrastructure to support our clients without missing a beat, making us and our clients agile.
What’s going to help take our clients to the next level going forward is that same mentality. Adaptability to today’s market realities is what has driven us to do things differently, which supports not only growth for ourselves, but also our clients and the communities we serve. We make a splash in the “sea of sameness” through our current and future investment in tools that will make our work more efficient and accurate through artificial intelligence, harnessing big data and building on our blockchain technologies.
The mindset of curiosity and empowerment that I see at every level of the firm makes me confident that we will build on our experiences from 2020 and take forward the lessons that will make us all wiser and more effective partners to our clients and contributors to our communities in 2021.