By Anne Rosivach
CPAs now have an opportunity to volunteer and provide up to five hours of free financial advice to veterans who want to start a new business or grow their current business. The program was launched through the AICPA's participation in the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative sponsored by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
"CPAs are embracing this opportunity to volunteer", Natasha Schamberger, CPA, AICPA Senior Technical Manager, PCPS/Firm Services told AccountingWeb in an interview. "Over 332 members have shown an interest in volunteering, and 150 have completed their registration. Many of our volunteers have indicated they are veterans themselves and are passionate about working with other veterans. Further, many have existing veteran clients."
Jason M. Deshayes, CPA, of Robert F. Butler, CPA, PC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, became interested in the Fast Launch program because he has a number of family members and friends who are veterans. Deschayes also has clients who are veterans. "Fast Launch is a well-designed program", Deshayes said. "Connections to the other partners in the program, like Walmart, Intacct, and the Small Business Administration, add value, because they can be useful to the veterans as they start up their business."
Veterans register through SCORE's online application process. SCORE then provides the veterans with a link to the CPA Volunteer Directory to find a CPA who best meets their needs. The veteran will make the initial contact to his or her selected CPA.
"CPA volunteers are asked to provide a brief bio containing their professional experience, provide their contact information, and agree to a privacy disclaimer to have this information included in the CPA Volunteer Directory on AICPA's website", Schamberger said. AICPA is supporting their member CPA volunteers by providing access to the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative Toolkit. This toolkit contains a customizable guide for veteran clients, a sample press release, and a web sticker CPAs can use to promote their volunteerism.
When a veteran initiates contact, a customizable guide is available to AICPA member volunteers to give to the veteran client prior to the initial meeting. The guide provides the veteran a framework and a small business start-up checklist for consideration. Schamberger said",The guide helps the veteran identify his or her questions before the initial meeting with the CPA, and it gives the CPA an opportunity to show how he or she can continue to add value to the business after the initial free five hours of consultation."
"CPAs can provide insight and financial knowledge", Deshayes said. "We can help veterans who are starting a business get things right from the very beginning. We can help them with tax filings, getting a sales tax number, banking, their EIN, and other areas. There are a lot of compliance issues that can come and bite you later on if you are not prepared for them."
"CPAs can also help veterans in their transition, bridging the gap between service and a career in civilian life. Veterans have tremendous skills; they are disciplined and have a commitment to serve", he added.
CPAs who are interested in volunteering can e-mail [email protected].