5 Ways Your Accountancy Firm Can Win And Retain Clients During The COVID-19 Pandemic
With COVID-19 and Brexit bringing exceptional uncertainty over the coming months, it’s a scary time for businesses of all shapes and sizes. As a skilled and competent business accountant, you’ll want to make sure you offer the highest standards of service that not only draws in new clients but that helps to retain existing ones too. Here we look at how.
1. Know about all the COVID-19 government assistance schemes for businesses
We've summarised these very briefly below but strongly advise accountants check the Government website regularly for updates.
Bounce back loans
Struggling small businesses can apply for fast, easy-to-access loans and can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The loans are 100% government backed and the money is released within days. Find out more about BB Loans.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Note that the cut off for new applications for the CJRS is 30th June. However, for reference you can get the latest on the CJRS on the Government website’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme page.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
The SIESS offers grants to those who have lost self-employment income due to COVID-19. The first round of payments were made in May, with the second round now being in August. Find out more about the SEISS.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
This scheme means employers can reclaim up to two weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay in respect of employees affected by COVID-19. To be eligible, the company must have had under 250 employees on the 28th February 2020. Find out more about SSP and coronavirus.
HMRC Time to Pay Scheme
If your client owes money to HMRC but is in financial distress they may be able to increase the timeframe available to pay. Find out more about the Time to Pay Scheme.
Deferral of Taxes
The Government is now allowing VAT payment to be deferred for a minimum of 3 months. For self-assessment, tax payments due by the 31st July 2020 can be deferred until 31st January 2021.
2. Go socially distant
In these days of Zoom and instant messaging, there’s often no real reason for a client to physically come and see you. Even the trusty phone call has its place here, and is preferable for many clients than having to rock up at your office.
Allow your clients a choice of ways to contact you, and if they do need to turn up in person make sure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to. This may mean putting 2 metre spacing tape on the floor or rearranging furniture.
3. Sounds obvious, but be friendly and approachable
These are incredibly stressful times and even the most robust businesses may not weather the economic fallout of COVID-19. Some companies will already be badly struggling, whilst others will be okay at the moment only to falter in a few months time.
Being an accountant means you can really make a difference to peoples’ financial peace of mind. Now more than ever, make sure you’re super friendly and easy to talk to. Be a calming influence so that a rapport can be built that build trust and keeps you on your client’s radar.
If you can, perhaps look to change or extend your working hours to allow for flexibility in these challenging times.
4. Get technical
Modern business owners are increasingly tech-savvy so are looking for accountants with a similar technological mindset. By investing in the right software, you can provide clients with a more valuable, streamlined service that gives an edge over your less technology-focussed competitors. Automating the most common processes your firm has to deal with can free up time, meaning you can do more with less staff. Increased efficiency also means you can focus more on advisory work and longer term goals.
5. Boost their cashflow with R&D Tax Credits
Have any of your new or existing clients recently engaged in innovative activities? Perhaps their company has designed a brand new product, service or process from scratch or has appreciably upgraded an existing one? Then research and development (R&D) Tax Credits may be on the cards.
The scheme was launched back in the early 2000s as a tax incentive for companies to grow and innovate. It’s been a popular one ever since, not least due to its extreme generosity. In fact, eligible companies can claim up to 33 pence back for every £1 of R&D expenditure, and there’s no minimum or maximum claim value either.
R&D Tax Credits are available for any UK company of any size and in any sector (we’re not just talking about technology and pharmaceutical companies here!).
The eligible costs that can be included in an R&D Tax Credits claim are also incredibly broad, with the relief administered either as a reduction in Corporation Tax or (if the company made a loss) as a cash lump sum. It doesn’t even matter if the project was a success or not - as long as a technological or scientific uncertainty was addressed.
Read up about the scheme on our R&D Tax Credits page.
How the Tax Cloud portal can help
The accountants’ area of the Tax Cloud (developed by Myriad Associates) allows you to enter in details of your client’s R&D projects and related costs before providing a fully guided, bespoke service through the application process..The portal itself is outstanding value, intuitive to use and can help you help your clients. Of course, the highly skilled team at Myriad Associates are also available from start to finish if you have any questions along the way.
We don’t deal with any other kind of tax relief work - only R&D tax credits. So by working with us, you know that the R&D tax relief box is ticked and you can get on with your day.