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What are your concerns for your practice in 2021?

After a challenging year, what are you expecting from the coming year in the industry?

Didn't find your answer?

A recent Senta survey highlighted that client cashflow was the biggest concern for accountants this year.

As 2020 draws to a close, what are some of your biggest concerns for your practice in the coming year? Feel free to leave a comment letting us know any challenges (or opportunities) that you expect to encounter during 2021.

Replies (34)

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
22nd Dec 2020 12:07

Concerns: Tier 5; Lockdown until summer.
Opportunities: Financial modelling; business plans; forecasting and advisory services.

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By Justin Bryant
22nd Dec 2020 12:30

Change for the worse is always a concern e.g. the dumb new edit block function and let's hope there are no more dumb changes to this website.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
24th Dec 2020 17:52

The edit block seems to be working very well and in the most part seems to have been well-received by users. The fact that you alone continue to whine and gripe about it at every opportunity says a lot about you.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
24th Dec 2020 18:12

Coming soon: inability to award yourself a house-point for your own post!

Wake up Aweb! This should be kids' stuff for your sandal-clad elastic-band-flicking-at-one-another IT team. I suggest you redeploy a moderator to poke them in their collective ribs.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
24th Dec 2020 18:18

Not sure if that was a dig at me but I’ve just added a thanks to prove that the first wasn’t mine.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
24th Dec 2020 18:56

You award yourself house-points too? Surely not!

No dig intended, so I do so hope that the cap doesn't fit. Yours truly is an aficionado of the Aweb time-out cap. And I'm a long-standing complainant of the self-promotional flaw that allows posters to award themselves a pat on the back.

UKBF's sandal brigade nailed that particular issue. Why do I imagine all this discontinuity emanates from two IT guys in the same office, with a dame in charge?

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
27th Dec 2020 12:34

There you go - I’ve removed it, having proved my point ;-)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
24th Dec 2020 19:00

That would be tragic
Got a roasting from John for pointing out a self like for a recent thread.

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By Mr_awol
22nd Dec 2020 13:00

With the (delayed) rollout to the private sector of the revised off-payroll-working processes due this year, my concern is that HMRC havent been tough enough on taxpayers (the inclusion of the word 'payer' being slightly ironic) who utilised abusive loan schemes. As such, we may see opportunists seeking to continue using such tactics

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Dec 2020 14:24

My main challenge is replacing lost clients due to IR35 rule changes / Covid / Brexit. I am down quite heavily due to a high reliance on small skill led clients.

I am hoping to target startups in Jan (always lots, but very slow burn) and continue my marketing aiming for business poorly served by local mid sized practices, possibly targeting price as we are about 2/3rd of the price of them generally and could drop lower. Just took in a gift from a client who we took through last year who was delighted at the increased service level and lower cost. it works!

I am also looking to market to the "grey" market who's accountants are retired (or should have) but have substantial assets unaffected by the wider economic position. They will be about the only people with any cash left in 12 months.

Internally, after my assistant spending 9 months of dialling into the office desktop machine and I imagine another 12 months to come, I am converting my network over the Xmas shut down to cloud, so all the data is going to come off the desktops and be on the cloud. This will also help with getting in an extra assistant as my normal +1 is struggling to put the hours in. Got £2k worth of IT showing up today with the office machines all being replaced. Going to be a lot of swearing going on between Xmas and new year as I am going to build it myself with some help from a client on the phone and perhaps dialing in to od some of the tricky bits.

This is actually a very deep change, affecting all our processes from clients coming in to filing but long overdue. I look forward to removing 2 large cupboards from the office.

I will have one massive monitor over 1M long on my desk rather than the clutter of mismatched screens. I think I deserve a treat after this year!

Thanks (3)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By exceljockey
22nd Dec 2020 17:00

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

My main challenge is replacing lost clients due to IR35 rule changes

Mine too. Thankfully my client base hasn't been affected by Covid too badly yet. However I suspect the Covid economic crisis is only tickling us at the moment. I think when this is all said and done it will end up being the kind of economic crisis Quentin Tarantino will make a movie about.

The big challenge is helping clients stay positive. One client who had been affected by Covid had a good business, despite Covid but she just gave up and walked away. I think there are going to be more like this.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Paul Crowley
23rd Dec 2020 10:32

Mine is less than a meter, but big screen means seeing more
Well worth the money
Struggle now when I operate on the smaller screens dotted about the building
Prefer 1 Big to two small

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
RedFive
By RedFive
23rd Dec 2020 13:35

Funnily enough my wife prefers that too.

Merry Christmas :)

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Replying to RedFive:
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By Paul Crowley
23rd Dec 2020 14:28

It was waiting n the air

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Dec 2020 14:22

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

My main challenge is replacing lost clients due to IR35 rule changes / Covid / Brexit. I am down quite heavily due to a high reliance on small skill led clients.

I remember a similar thing happening when HMRC targeted subcontractors.

I lost about 20 clients virtually overnight.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By bendybod
05th Jan 2021 10:22

The combination of the three really is harsh.
I'm also finding several clients suddenly discovering that they have a friend or relative who is an accountant or someone operating by themselves from home who we can't match.
I had a couple of clients who intended to specifically chase IR35 contracts because everyone else was shying away from them but with Covid they've gone for the safe option of PAYE. Plus the inevitable "I was planning to retire in a year or two so I'm just going to call it a day now and might get some work in (name a supermarket) to bring some extra cash in".

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By JimLittle
22nd Dec 2020 18:54

Opportunities will be there as many employees lose their job post Furlough and there will not be many options for many so they will have to setup their own business. Though as lucrative fee earning client fold these new start ups may not make up gap. Accounting Fees will fall.

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Replying to JimLittle:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
23rd Dec 2020 10:01

JimLittle wrote:

Accounting Fees will fall.

Over-supply and under-demand. I guess we're all going to have to cut costs / work smarter / play fee-wars. Except maybe those with an in-demand specialism.

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Replying to JimLittle:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Dec 2020 14:28

JimLittle wrote:
Accounting Fees will fall.

From a purely personal point of view, I hope so.

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blue sheep
By NH
23rd Dec 2020 09:42

For us I do not see cashflow as an issue, since this began we have not had a single client stop our monthly payments, I would have been seriously worried if we were still using the old school once a year big bill method.
I am still of the opinion that the clients that will fail are those that were already failing and that we have been expecting to cease for a while anyway, still think no more than 10% will cease if that.
There will be tax changes no doubt and so guiding clients through that will be work, but nothing we have not seen before.
My biggest hope is that staff and clients manage to get through this with their health intact, during the first wave all I heard was "I dont know anyone who has it" now all I hear is "my father/sister/uncle etc has it" and my worry is that the longterm health issues are underestimated for those that "recover".

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Replying to NH:
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By bendybod
05th Jan 2021 10:25

We certainly had clients stop monthly payments. Of course those who were already in trouble are unlikely to make it but we've had a few who could never have predicted last March that their entire income stream was going to dry up over night. Mostly the ones of those who are surviving are those who have had another income stream such as rental income.

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By Paul Crowley
23rd Dec 2020 10:17

Clients who want work done who cannot pay

HMRC finally deciding what ABUSIVE means on furlough claims

Clients deciding that my comments on ABUSIVE were too strong and preferring more 'flexible' unregulated accountancy

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By Moonbeam
23rd Dec 2020 10:33

Furlough played havoc with my mental state. Such that I've now recovered and am rather less interested in working like a maniac (as I used to do quite often for the last 40 years.) My whole attitude has changed.
I am going to increase my start-up clients next year, but also look for larger clients where I can advise on management accounts stuff, monitor budgets, train the bookkeeper. I won't need many extra of the larger ones to keep me going.
I am going to be much more relaxed, so I am alive when my state pension kicks in around about May.

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By Paul Crowley
23rd Dec 2020 10:57

I feel similar
Stress on Furlough and Covid was very real
With F*** all appreciation from the few tight gits that thought wages is press a button and furlough press two buttons but no extra charge on button two

Trouble is I just cannot get rid of the tiny time consuming paper only no email people on a moral standpoint

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By Manchester_man
27th Dec 2020 04:17

I echo every word of this.

Furlough has been a huge drain on time (not to mention the mental drain) and clients are in my experience unappreciative of the fact we have done all this at no extra cost, purely to help them. A simple thank you would be nice.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
23rd Dec 2020 15:20

My concern is that this is not over by a long shot and we have Brexit to factor in at some point.

So no new year, new start.

Its going to be another 6 months before things get anywhere near normal. Then rebuild from there. We have added a lot of work this year, and have a lot in the pipeline for 2021. The insolvency process will need to kick in for many in the new year.

On the plus.
Covid has helped clients see the benefits of working closer with their accountants so I have some good meetings booked in for January to do Business Plans, forecasts and book quarterly meetings. So overall we are making progress but this year has been brutal.

I have finished now until the 4th Jan and will be having a decent break without email.

Take care everyone and Happy Christmas.

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By SteveHa
23rd Dec 2020 16:17

I'm not overly concerned professionally at all. I'm employed and secure, and whilst I do have my day to day compliance work, I tend to get a lot of the technical stuff from the partners (probably because I'm happiest when I'm digging around the legislation), and the technical stuff won't stop. If anything, it's likely to increase.

A bit miffed at the Welsh Government announcing changes to LTT with less than a day's notice, though. There's literally nothing technical to read on the subject yet.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Dec 2020 18:26

I would just like to say that we are not an industry.

We are a Profession.

Apart from Tom, obviously.

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By Homeworker
31st Dec 2020 10:10

I suspect some of you who have lost clients due to Covid will find you can pick up clients from firms like mine in a year or so.
We work from home, so have hardly been affected by the pandemic, but do not have the resources (or willpower) to take on quarterly accounting via MTD for income tax when it starts in 2023. We don't have too many business clients left, as I have already passed them on to someone else, but have a large number of landlord clients and I have no idea how a small firm with only two employees can be expected to cope with preparing and filing the 2022/2023 tax returns at the same time as dealing with quarterly returns under the new regime.
Most landlords are NOT used to updating their records throughout the year and will not have software set up to deal with this, so I can see a steep learning curve ahead. Given that many of our landlords are also pensioners this may be more than they can cope with. Letting agents may well offer to take on the burden but will they pick up expenses paid direct by the landlord and how will that fit in with tax agents, who may well need to add other untaxed income, such as dividends or overseas income via the annual return?
We plan to retire fully by then!

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Replying to Homeworker:
RLI
By lionofludesch
31st Dec 2020 10:50

Homeworker wrote:

We plan to retire fully by then!

Wise words.

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By Mitch
05th Jan 2021 12:44

Recruitment! This is always a big issue for us being a rural practice as we rarely get anyone with the required experience applying for jobs. Therefore there is always a lot of on the job training required. I can't see recruiting and training being easy whilst remaining socially distanced.

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Replying to Mitch:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
06th Jan 2021 12:06

Maybe it's time to tap in to experienced staff, working remotely. There have been a few here in this forum on the lookout for freelance work.

Maybe that's an opportunity for Aweb, to help such people hook-up with one another. Presently, People-per-hour and a plethora of annoying cheap-and-cheerful marketing chancers seem to have that market cornered.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
blue sheep
By NH
06th Jan 2021 12:34

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

Maybe it's time to tap in to experienced staff, working remotely. There have been a few here in this forum on the lookout for freelance work.

Maybe that's an opportunity for Aweb, to help such people hook-up with one another. Presently, People-per-hour and a plethora of annoying cheap-and-cheerful marketing chancers seem to have that market cornered.

What, you mean like a page called Opportunities, oh wait....... (newer members will obviously not get it)

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Replying to NH:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
06th Jan 2021 12:55

Thank you for spotting the irony :)

What a splendid advertisement for Aesop!

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