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Challenging Environment Provides Backdrop for Accountants, Attorneys Meeting

By Tompkins VIST Bank

Sep 27, 2020

Accountants, Attorneys Receive Market Update at Tompkins VIST Bank-sponsored Program

The second 2020 Accountant-Lawyer Alliance (ALA) meeting sponsored by Tompkins VIST Bank was held virtually recently and covered a popular topic: the economy and financial environment during this challenging time.

About 70 accountants and lawyers as well as some small business owners participated in the live webinar, which focused on current market indicators, factors driving economic performance, and the impact of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The host was William Kline Ph.D., who is co-executive of ALA with Dennis McGovern. In addition to Kline and McGovern, other presenters were James Acquaviva, vice president of Tompkins VIST Bank; and Kevin Grant of Tompkins Financial Advisors.

Based on audience interest, a large part of the discussion revolved around the PPP program. “The chat button was ablaze with comments and questions,” said Acquaviva, who helps the ALA plan and conduct the Tompkins VIST Bank-sponsored seminars. Acquaviva stressed the positive impact of the PPP program after the bank rushed to get the funds into the hands of small business customers. He also cited companies that have adapted to counter the pandemic’s impact to their businesses. “We have many examples of customers who have been able to generate revenue by getting creative in this new normal.” he said.

In the market indicator portion of the program, Grant explained why the market could go in the opposite direction of economic numbers such as unemployment. “Even with high unemployment and poor GDP numbers the market could still be positive,” he said. “The stock market is forward looking and stock prices are based on expectations of a company’s future earnings, not the economy’s present state.” He added that government really softened the blow of the economic shutdown through the CARES Act and the Fed’s commitment to supporting business. Those moves helped to stabilize consumer confidence throughout the pandemic.  In response to questions about the length of a potential recovery, he explained that, although the stock market might have experienced a V-shaped rebound as was originally predicted, the overall economy may have a different experience. A more appropriate concept might be a graduated rise, similar to the Nike “Swoosh” logo. “We are expecting a more gradual rebound to the economy. Its  eventual strength will depend on the long term effect the pandemic,” Grant said. “Here at Tompkins, we will keep our focus on strong companies with solid balance sheets and the ability to move in the right direction.”

Both Acquaviva and Grant expressed appreciation for being able to sponsor some of the ALA events, for which participants receive free continuing education credits. “We work in partnership with accountants and lawyers to serve clients, so we all benefit from gaining more expertise,” Acquaviva said.  Grant believes the ALA has a great value proposition. “The ALA makes continuing education easy and engaging. In fact, my wife, who’s a CPA, says she wants to join because of this event,” he said.

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