Businesses have responded to the pandemic in so many different ways. For some, it’s been a question of ‘battening down the hatches’. For others, adjusting, adapting, evolving have been the priority. Whatever your sector, however tough the current crisis has been for you, whatever the nature of your response, the past six months will have forced you to reflect … on many aspects of your business. Your relationship with your accountant is one area which deserves your particular focus.
When you first appointed your accountant, what kind of service were you anticipating? Presumably, you were expecting all kinds of support –
- making sure you’re compliant
- providing you with regular and accurate financial statements
- guiding you in matters relating to VAT and tax
- offering advice on how to save money or boost revenue
- plus a dozen more essential services
Did it ever cross your mind that one day you’d be asking your accountant to explain something called ‘furlough’?
Did you imagine, even for a fleeting moment, that you’d be inviting them to talk you through the concept of Small Business Grants, Bounce Back Loans or Self Employed Income Support Scheme?
Did you ever think you’d be plaintively begging your accountant – ‘What shall I do? I have no prospect of any revenue for at least three months.’?
When you first appointed your accountant, had you heard of COVID-19?
Hiccup or calamity
There isn’t a single sector of society that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic. Almost every business has suffered in one way or another. For some, it’s barely been a tremor. Others have experienced a jolt. For a few, the pandemic has been, quite simply, calamitous.
So, where have all the accountants been? What role have they had to play?
Life certainly hasn’t been easy for them. As the world was turning on its head, they too shared the same uncertainties as you. Alongside their normal duties, they’ve also been fighting to stay abreast of the unprecedented flurry of government announcements and schemes.
Accountants have been working day after day (and sometimes night after night) to support their clients. More than ever, accountants have been offering unprecedented value.
Navigating clients through stormy waters
Michael Suffield is director of professional insights at the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). He hit just the right tone when he declared that accountants should be right “at the heart of business’s ability to survive the pandemic, to recover and then to grow again. Accountants help navigate the government support available, manage liquidity and cash flow in the near term.”
He says that accountants “will build forecasts and review business models as organisations adapt and look to identify opportunities as they and the economy emerge from the pandemic.”
Not a slow puncture
Traditionally, being more-or-less cyclical in nature, economic downturns have been relatively predictable. They’ve tended to be more of a slow puncture than a full-impact, out-of-the-blue, head-on collision. Businesses have received sufficient warning to slow down, mend the puncture, or even change the tyre altogether.
But not this time around. Some say that the pandemic was inevitable – a medical, economic, societal and personal car crash that was always going to happen. Well, maybe so. But it’s no good alerting drivers of danger ahead with road signs that are three inches high. No-one told you or me about the fallen oak tree just around the next bend.
Tears are all that’s left
When, in March, the pandemic hit the UK, the government was swift to take action. As support package followed rescue measure followed bounce-back grant, accountants morphed into messenger boys and girls. They found themselves fielding phone calls and emails from panicking clients; interpreting swathes of government edicts; sending out countless bulletins and updates to their hapless clients.
But more than this, accountants have, quite literally, had to provide that all-important shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, when business owners, after years of toil and enterprise, are faced with the near or total collapse of their life’s work, tears are all that’s left.
Triage nurse super-heroes
Overnight, accountants found themselves transformed from number-crunching, report-generating, business advisers into all-powerful triage nurse super-heroes.
All this, while dealing with their own worries – declining revenue, a potentially reducing client-base, the welfare of their own staff and the future of their own businesses.
If you’ve ever considered the services of your accountant as anything like a luxury, you’ve completely missed the point. The pandemic has brutally thrown into the spotlight the value of hiring a well-qualified, experienced, pro-active accountant. They know their stuff. They go to work every day to support you … and they’re always ready with a big box of tissues.
Always here to help
There are many lessons to be learned from this year’s appalling health and socio-economic catastrophe. As for you and your business, we do hope you’re seeing signs of a ‘pick-up’ in activity. As society evolves in ways few of us anticipated at the start of 2020, now is the time to reflect on many aspects of business. One of these perhaps is the relationship we have with our accountant. If your accountant has been pro-active and supportive, great. If not – if you feel you’ve been left to fend for yourself, perhaps it’s time to think again … and give us a call.
It will be good to hear from you.
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