42% of SMES don’t see how accountants can get them back on track. Here’s what your firm can do.

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Research, Strategy

Accountants are in a unique position to advise small businesses on withstanding the effects of the coronavirus crisis, but our research has found that more than two-fifths of business owners think their accountant is “not important” in doing so.

After a month of lockdown in the UK, small businesses across the country are having to find ways of adapting to the measures, and to plan for what their future might look like.

To provide an insight into the way those business owners are feeling and the actions they’re taking during this time, we carried out a survey that asked SME owners how they have been affected, and what role their accountant has played. We also carried out interviews with a smaller group of business owners, to discuss their experiences.

You can read our full report on the survey here.

Bridging the gap in understanding

Around 42% of the people we surveyed said they did not think their accountant would be important in getting their business back on track, despite many saying they were worried about their “long-term security” and “ability to stay financially afloat” in the future. 

Accountancy firms are, in fact, in an ideal position to solve those issues. 

They know their clients’ businesses inside out, and they have an established relationship that could be built upon to guide and advise them.

The challenge is finding a way to educate businesses about what you can do to support them, steering the conversation away from both sourcing Government support and traditional accountancy services. 

It’s a chance to show what more you can do beyond the basics. 

For many businesses, the most severe effects of the coronavirus crisis could come several months down the line, and if short-term financial support is no longer available from the state, strategic business support is what they will need.

If your firm is not already offering business advisory services, or has not been actively promoting them, now is the time to start. Your clients need expert business advice to make it through the crisis, but they might not realise they can get that from you. Make sure you’re sending a clear message about what you can do, with evidence of your experience and expertise.

Build connections and show you care

While most of the businesses we surveyed had heard from their accountant, 16% had not. 

That’s a significant chunk of respondents, and for those already working hard to advise and inform their clients on what’s happening, it shows there’s an opportunity to stand out where others are falling short.

Despite the restrictions of social distancing on our day-to-day lives that have been brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of human connection has not been lost.

If anything, people are more connected now than they were before, with video calls, social media and more offering various ways to stay in touch.

At a time when we’re all dealing with the stresses of life under lockdown, and when business owners are having to make difficult decisions to keep their businesses going throughout the period and beyond, the value of having someone to talk to, to share ideas with and to ask for advice cannot be overestimated.

At PracticeWeb, we believe it’s important now, more than ever, to build lasting connections with your existing clients and potential new ones, and we know that many of our clients are already doing that. 

However, not everyone is taking the time to maintain those connections, as our research shows. 

By offering high-quality customer service and making yourself visible through a strong digital presence, you can demonstrate the value of your firm to small businesses, and give them advice when they most need it.

Read more in the full report

Our report, the impact of COVID-19 on British businesses, reveals how SME owners are responding to the virus and what they’re doing to protect their business now and in the future. 

Using this data, we’ve identified the main ways you can help your clients during this time, and set out several practical steps you can take.

The report covers business responses to the following questions:

  • How has COVID-19 affected your business?
  • What changes have you made to your workforce?
  • What financial support will you take?
  • Have you changed to help your customer?
  • Have you heard from your accountant?
  • Have you been in contact with your accountant?
  • How important is your accountant in helping your business get back on track?
  • Do you see your business changing after this crisis?
  • Do you see your sector changing after this crisis?

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