COVID-19 is reshaping the accountancy industry. Don’t get left behind.
We can’t stay in crisis mode forever. It’s time to move forward and adapt to the new reality the accountancy industry faces. But how?
The intense triage mode of the past few months was hard work but absolutely necessary.
SME clients, fearing for the future of their businesses as the UK lockdown bit, were desperate for clear information and proactive guidance from their accountants.
As a result, the industry has been forced to up its game, reacting faster, communicating more frequently and learning about emotional intelligence – fast. The good news is, it seems to have paid dividends.
Research we’ve seen suggests that around two thirds of SME decision-makers feel their accountant has met or exceeded their expectations during the coronavirus crisis. And more than a third say they are now more likely to recommend their accountant as a result.
Unfortunately, that level of intense support isn’t sustainable. Accountants need to look after themselves, too, and risk burnout if they continue working endless days, seven days a week.
One of the buzz phrases of the day is ‘corona-fatigue’ and this is just one more example.
The question is, how do you keep up the momentum you’ve built by making yourself indispensable while stepping back from permanent emergency mode?
During COVID-19, many accountants have been forced to be reactive, answering endlessly ringing phones and racing to contact as many clients as possible every time the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announces a new support measure.
Now, as we find a bit of collective breathing space, it’s time to take control and turn that into a process.
First, if you’re not already doing so, set up customer relationship management (CRM) software – something Capium has built in.
There’s usually some investment in time required upfront to get the client database up to date but it’s well worth it.
When a client calls, you’ll have immediate access to the history of the conversation your firm has been having with them. You’ll know which accountancy services they’re already paying for and which they’ve been thinking about.
More importantly, you should be able to get on the front foot, scheduling contact points and reminders so that you can call them before they call you – at a time that suits, when your head is in the right place.
On 23 March, everything went digital whether we were ready for it or not, from teambuilding to date night.
Savvy accountancy firms will build on that momentum. Push on with implementation of remote working facilities, cloud accounting systems and enhanced digital communications facilities.
You’ve no doubt been advising your clients to use Government-supported bounce-back loans to cover this kind of future-proofing investment. It goes without saying that you should seriously consider doing the same.
Pivot with your clients
Have you built your accountancy business around sectors such as hospitality or tourism? Both have been hit hard by measures designed to control the spread of COVID-19 and face restricted trading for months to come.
Ecommerce and takeaway food, meanwhile, are booming. The same goes for trades such as industrial deep cleaning. And recurring revenue tech firms such as Zoom are having a good year, too.
As we pass the longest day of the year, and 2021 hoves into view, ask yourself not only how you can help your clients pivot, as a trusted business adviser, but also whether your business is targeting the right sectors.
Cut the right cords
The change caused upheaval, as businesses struggled to adjust all their systems and processes within the space of a few weeks, but it also got people thinking about why they needed to be bound to their offices in the first place.
A YouGov poll conducted in May showed that 59% of people want to work from home more often than they did before the crisis, and 50% felt that remote working had benefited their work-life balance.
Anyone who was already set up for remote working with cloud-based practice management and accountancy software has probably found the transition a lot easier.
Not being tied to the office desktop or relying on paper records takes a huge amount of stress out of switching to working from home – and maybe you’ve even found more time for yourself after cutting out your commute.
If you’re planning to retain some level of remote working after restrictions on businesses loosen, the benefits of a true cloud software can’t be overstated. Online software can help you manage your staff, set up tasks and workflows, communicate and share information much more easily.
Even aside from the immediate advantage of convenience, there’s security to think about. Using the cloud lowers the risk of permanently losing or damaging your files, because they’re stored remotely in multiple locations.
And by swapping multiple pieces of outdated software for one all-encompassing solution, you have the opportunity to significantly lower your practice’s technology costs by removing the need to pay per user licence.
With economic challenges ahead, streamlining your practice and putting more efficient processes in place will put you in the best possible position to face them.
Capium’s full suite of software covers everything from practice management to payroll with no user licence fees!