How Accountants can help Struggling Clients
This past year has seen seismic changes across all corners of business especially in the relationship between accountants and their clients. With automation carrying out many accountants’ tasks, more and more accountants are broadening their service offering to clients.
Also, changes in economic circumstances have forced many business owners to re-examine how they operate, especially if they are in an industry that was disproportionately affected by covid.
There are myriad ways in which an accountant can help their clients, many of which relate to providing expertise beyond getting to trial balance.
Here are some ways accountants and bookkeepers can help struggling clients...
Provide guidance on government resources and obligations
The pandemic, related recession and Brexit have brought unforeseen challenges to countless businesses. It's understandable that many business owners have been despondent but they also should be aware of the numerous resources available both from governments and lending institutions.
For instance, in the UK, clients might need clarification on MTD and the government’s furlough scheme. In Ireland, there are supports both for businesses and employees affected by covid. These are the kinds of things that accountants and bookkeepers can help their clients with.
Help with loan applications and other paperwork
Continuing on that theme, some business owners are intimidated by what’s required of them when it comes to forms, paperwork and bureaucracy. They might welcome help and advice in these areas.
Offer technical support
For many clients or business owners, technology can be intimidating and something they don't feel they can rely on. What they may not understand is how technology - such as automation and cloud computing - can make their daily lives easier.
Automated data entry can free hours on their day, reduce the amount of paper in their lives and make it easier to find data and information when they need it.
You're probably aware of accounts and automation software that could make your clients life easier so this is a conversation worth having.
For UK-based accountants and business, MTD looms, whether you're ready or not. So, this could be a catalyst for conversations about technology and the cloud that you or your client might have been putting off.
It’s best to take the carrot approach: Look at it from their point of view and impress to them the time saving and stress reduction benefits of making even an initial step into the world of automation on the cloud.
Be available to give reactive advice
Remind your clients that you’re available to talk if they need short notice advice. This past year has had no shortage of crises: A clear-headed, trusted and knowledgeable advisor can lead someone out of the darkness and show solutions that they might not be aware of.
You might know your client’s finances better than they do. And you won’t have the emotional investment and baggage that a business owner might have with their own business.
Look beyond short term
While it's understandable that many businesses will be looking to short term survival as a priority, it's also worth considering what might be beneficial to them in the medium or even long term.
If you have time, take a holistic look at the business opportunities for growth, or where money can be saved in the medium to long term. For instance, renting a premises might not be beneficial in the medium to long term; or take a look at vendors' contracts and opportunities to save money.
For more, see our recent article on money management for small businesses.
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