Will COVID-19 Drive More Freelance Accounting?

Could COVID-19 inspire more freelance accounting?

Accounting has not been unaffected by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. At least 17,500 tax and accounting jobs have been lost, according to a report by CPA Trendlines. Many who kept their job suffered pay cuts, with one firm reporting 5% to 14% pay cuts for employees making less than $100,000 annually.

Accountants who lost their jobs or suffered pay cuts may find freelance accounting a viable option. Companies have also been adapting to remote work– and the tools, technology, and culture that enable it. The market for freelance accounting could grow as companies adjust to the new environment and expand their hiring options.

Freelance Accounting is Already a Thing

Freelance accounting is already more common than you might think. You can find freelance accountants on popular freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr from around the world, with an emphasis on the U.S. and Canada. Freelance accounting rates vary, with many charging between $100-250 per hour.

In a September 2020 study, Upwork found 36% of the U.S. workforce freelancing as a result of the pandemic. “COVID-19 pandemic drives an influx of young, highly skilled, first time freelancers seeking alternate career opportunities.” This resulted in $1.2 trillion in annual earnings from freelancers.  

The freelance economy has been growing for years as tools and technologies advanced and companies became more open-minded. The gig economy and rates of freelance accountants have been growing steadily for years. Upwork reported 88% of freelancers intend to continue working the gig economy in the future, regardless of the pandemic.

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Companies Are Evolving, Too

It’s not just workers who are leaning into the possibility of contracted work. In the same study by Upwork, 47% of hiring managers reported being “more likely to hire independent professionals since the COVID-19 crisis than they were in the future.” For companies facing revenue loss, reduced staff, and unprecedented levels of remote work, there are more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to hiring independent workers. 

The need to adapt to the new environment has forced companies into rethinking their hiring practices and investing in the necessary infrastructure. As Zoom calls and never “meeting” our colleagues become more common, so too will having freelance accountants as an extension of the team. 

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An Opportunity For Freelance Accountants

There was a time when every accountant felt they had to have an office so they could meet with their clients in person and deal with their information in a paper format. That has changed over the past years with the shift toward “paperless,” but this last year took the normalcy of remote work and virtual meetings to new heights.

If you’re considering freelance accounting, 2021 might be the year to try. While a damaged economy might seem like an unsavory time to strike out on your own, COVID-19 has brought opportunities along with its challenges.

As a result of the pandemic, business owners and individuals are navigating a new world of challenges. Some of these challenges are things accountants can help with, such as:

  • Understanding tax changes related to COVID-19 
  • Finding relief programs and determining eligibility 
  • Optimizing cash flow and identifying savings 
  • Filing taxes and managing paperwork 

While some will go to an accounting firm, small businesses and entrepreneurs may prefer the personal touch and more approachable rates of a freelance accountant. As the gig economy grows, so will the clientele of freelance accountants.

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The Right Time, Technologically

Imagine COVID-19 happening in the early 90s: there was a very different environment of technology and tools to support us. In 2020, we have the tools and technology we need to persist through a global pandemic. While disruptions were inevitable, plenty of work has carried on more or less as usual through the pandemic. 

Many jobs have been lost this year, but many opportunities have been forged through the hardships. Technology affords us the chance to explore our options and potentially form our own solutions to the problems we face. The tools we create help us be better at that, stay more organized and be more effective in our pursuits.

A Plan Built For Freelance Accounting

If you want to try out freelance accounting, consider TPS Cloud Axis for managing your practice. You can track your time and billing, manage client information, quickly produce reports, and optimize workflow. At only $10/month, our Entrepreneur plan is ideal for freelance accountants.

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