Chairman The Corporate Finance Network
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Busier than ever? How triaging can support clients through lockdown

As the latest lockdown is announced along with more potential business support grants, many accountants’ initial reaction is to say that offering business advice to their clients is beyond their ability at the moment, due to time constraints and the limits on their resources.

6th Jan 2021
Chairman The Corporate Finance Network
Columnist
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This time we have far more information than with the first lockdown as we have learnt so much more about our clients’ capacity to manage through this type of situation and are likely to have a better understanding about whether this new lockdown will present them with further challenges.  With that knowledge we are in a position to triage our client base much more effectively than we were last spring.

That’s where this lockdown is different from the one in March 2020. Accountants have already had those conversations with clients. So they don’t have to speak to every client as they know which ones are going to struggle under the new restrictions.

This is where segmenting clients into three groups will help firms allocate the right support for the clients that need it the most. Looking over that list you should be able to determine which clients are going to cope.

Accountants have these skills naturally, but time is so precious this January other priorities may take precedence, such as working flat out to meet the 31 January self assessment deadline.

Identifying the clients that are adversely affected

But there is no escaping the fact that you’re going to have struggling clients in one group. It’s inevitable, as we’ve seen from previous lockdown restrictions, that these clients may need insolvency and redundancy advice.

The next group are those that are the middle ground; they’ve got CBILS and tax reliefs but may need that extra support to see through the lockdown: whether that’s support in securing the one-off lockdown grants or a cashflow forecast.

Finally, there will be those that are growing and will need advice to ensure they have the confidence to embrace the opportunities presented during this period. These clients should be encouraged to consider the M&A route to grow through acquisition, which would support the economy and protect jobs. 

When discussing the importance of triaging clients, Capitalise’s Paul Surtees raised the example of two pubs in his local village. One pub decided to shut their doors, furlough their staff and ride out the lockdown, while another pub pivoted to a click and collect takeaway service. Both approaches demonstrate the importance of triaging clients to ensure they receive the best advice for their own particular circumstance and drive

Whether your client is struggling, steady and coping or even growing, we want to be able to equip you with the skills, tools and confidence to have the most appropriate conversations with your clients, so that you and your team can advise them as efficiently as possible.

The #LeaveNoBusinessBehind partners in the profession have come together again, to host a one-off event on Thursday 7 January at 8.30am, with a team of speakers to help you identify the specific support each type of client may need. Register for the webinar here.

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