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Posted: November 3, 2020

Accounting firm ahead of the curve

By Erin Knutson

Rice & Co, a recent entrant in East Kootenay’s accounting landscape, has seen their business grow significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already in demand due to their expertise in online and paperless accounting systems, the firm has seen demand skyrocket as businesses try to adapt to the ever changing environment of the pandemic.

Having operated in Calgary for the past 10 years, Rice & Co expanded into B.C. in 2018, first in Nelson and then to Kimberley and Cranbrook in 2019. Though, due to the online nature of their firm, they’re able to serve clients anywhere, including across Canada and internationally.

The firm’s international clients provided a prescient view into the progression of COVID-19 and its likely impacts on its Canadian clients. “We were ahead of the curve – we had clients in Wuhan and South Korea that were already dealing with the impact of a lockdown before any restrictions existed in Canada. The two to three weeks of data allowed us to start forecasting the impact on our Kootenay clients and, where possible, help them mitigate the impacts” said Tyler Rice CPA, CA, and Founding Partner of Rice & Co.

Tyler Rice CPA, CA, MPAcc, and partner at Rice & Co.

Building off strong technology and automation platforms, Rice & Co offers comprehensive accounting solutions to clients, ranging from day-to-day bookkeeping, payroll and tax, to Virtual CFO services that provide ongoing strategic and financial advice to fast growing companies.

Their efficiency, accessibility, and digital platform made it easier to help clients navigate the constant changes introduced throughout the year as the federal and provincial governments announced the various recovery programs. “We attended weekly roundtables with Community Futures to see what was happening, and it was a treadmill,” said Rice, as he acknowledged the firm’s efforts to keep up with the revolving government mandates and supports.

According to Rice and Chad Murray, CPA, CA, the firm’s local manager, lockdowns accelerated tech growth in their organization. While Rice & Co already supported remote work, everyone working from home full-time highlighted pain points, such as scheduling and organizing virtual meetings. The firm’s Managing Partner, Ryan Hoult, CPA, CA, is a computer science graduate, and led the charge to improve the team’s experience. This included adopting Calendly, to allow clients to book their own meetings with the Rice team, and distributing HD webcams and high- speed scanners to staff.

While they were busy keeping up with daily life at the firm and adapting to ongoing changes, both Rice and Murray looked at the big picture, and developing a strategy to help other businesses forge ahead. “COVID-19 changed the game, but once we decided to be open to change, opportunities for innovation presented themselves,” said Rice.

This has included supporting the launch of the Nelson Innovation Centre, a community hub aimed at connecting tech-focused businesses and entrepreneurs, and most recently become a service provider for BC’s Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program. This program will provide $300 million in targeted financial support to BC businesses, and the firm’s focus will be helping local Kootenay businesses develop realistic recovery plans that will allow them to access the funding. “The Kootenays are where we live. These businesses are the dreams and hopes of our friends and neighbours, and we’re honoured to be able to help them as we all start looking to the future,” said Rice.

Their ability to impact the community has set the accounting firm apart as they continue on their quest to mitigate crisis losses and restructure commerce locally and globally.

A willingness to adopt new strategies has been essential to growth and survival, said Rice, as their firm has continued to flourish under pressure and with a roster of entrenched clients. If anything, the changes have provided greater efficiency for clientele, according to Murray. He is now able to provide clientele with real-time financial information with little face-to-face interaction. “What would traditionally take us four hours can now be completed in under one,” he said.

According to the firm, the learning curve of new software can be challenging, but the firm has implemented processes to train and onboard new clients to their application stack. For the firm, supporting local progress is vital, especially with the virus’s outcome and trajectory uncertainty.

For Rice and Murray, the commitment to their customer base, the community, and other organizations is essential to moving forward and in-line with their vision to offer excellence and accelerated assistance as things progress. “We’re open for business, and we’re on board for clients.”

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