Firm News

October 20, 2021

Ren Cicalese as a Featured Panelist for NJ Biz Article

Managing Shareholder, Ren Cicalese, CPA, PFS, CGMA, has been featured in the article, “Anyone There? Why The Pipeline of Professionals Might Be Drying Up” on Ren comments alongside other professionals discussing the shortage of accountants now and in the future.

CPAs like Ren Cicalese are also charting new waters. “After more than year of working remotely most of the time, I see remote work here to stay,” according to Cicalese, managing shareholder of the accounting and advisory firm Alloy Silverstein. “The pandemic basically drove us to make six years’ worth of progress in six months,” he said. “I’ve been in the office two, maybe three times since this started. I may dash into the office to sign papers or for other tasks, and it’s sad because I notice the little things, like plants that were left on a person’s desk because they thought we’d come back soon, and now they’re drooping because they haven’t been watered. The good thing is that if someone does go into our Hammonton or Cherry Hill office, they no longer have to worry about finding a parking spot.”

That’s not all. “Our Cherry Hill office lease is up at the end of 2022, and I expect we’ll only need half the space there,” he said. “We’ll either be 100% remote, or maybe people will rotate in one or two days a week in the office.”

Internally, the firm quickly adjusted to a remote-work environment, Cicalese added. “In 61 years, this marked the first time we advised our employees that they had to get their core 9-to-5 hours in, but that they didn’t have to do it from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. strictly. Some people get up at 4:00 a.m. so they can help their kids during the day with their home schooling during the pandemic.”

Restrictions on in-person meetings haven’t crimped Alloy Silverstein’s ability to attract new clients. In addition to referrals, companies find out about the firm through initiatives like online alerts and Alloy Academy educational workshops featuring accounting and business tips, and best practices. The 60-minute workshops used to be hosted in the firm’s Cherry Hill or Hammonton offices, as well as online webinars — since the pandemic started they’ve been online only and interest has exploded, said Cicalese.

“We used to have maybe six to 12 people attend the in-person workshops, but now we’re getting up to 100 or more at our Zoom sessions,” he noted. “The other day I was on a Zoom call with clients in Colorado and California, and a potential client from Arizona. We’re helping even more people now across the country. With so many people working from home, everyone’s comfortable with having their [accounting] representative in a different state. They’re also realizing that the cheapest tax preparer may not be the best in a crisis.”

Alloy Silverstein managing shareholder Ren Cicalese has not had to share an office for 30 years. But working from home during the pandemic means that Cicalese and his wife, Alloy Associate Partner Anne D’Amico, are now squeezed into a study that wasn’t designed to accommodate two people at the same time. “Now that we’ve been sharing a home office for over a year, we see that it was a design flaw,” he said with a chuckle. “So when I’m on a conference call, I walk out. And when my wife is on a conference call, I walk out. And my Zoom meetings take place at the kitchen table.”

At least the snacks are reasonably priced.


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