AE awards celebrate the profession's Covid heroes
This year’s Accounting Excellence ceremony celebrated the accounting heroes of Covid-19 with awards that praised the response of firms, suppliers and individuals.
On an evening where accountants accepted awards virtually due to the pandemic, it was only right that the annual award ceremony praised the hard work the profession has demonstrated in supporting businesses throughout lockdowns, restrictions and tier systems.
From a TV studio in Bristol, hosts Richard Hattersley and Mike Goldsmith, with help from stand-up comedian Naomi Cooper and software vendors, handed out awards to recognise accountancy’s Covid heroes in firm, supplier and individual categories.
BrightPay, Kinder Pocock and Ria-Jaine Lincoln all picked up Covid Hero Awards.
The awards celebrated firms and vendors that went the extra mile to support businesses in times of need and pushed the boundaries of what it means to be agile and resilient.
As Cooper noted in her introduction, the accountancy profession has “helped clients through times of almost constant confusion and ever changing regulation with a smart, digital focus and some genuine grit”.
Covid Hero Firm Award
Hereford-based Kinder Pocock took the Covid Hero firm award. Sharon Pocock, the owner of Kinder Pocock, is no stranger to the Accounting Excellence awards, having previously picked up the Client Service of the year award in 2017.
Pocock utilised these caring techniques to make small business support “something of a personal crusade”, remarked the judges.
The judges were impressed by Pocock’s weekly Zoom check-ins, and live Facebook updates which their clients called a “lifeline” and a “comfort blanket”. From the beginning, Pocock cleared her calendar to offer complementary action plans, while the firm triaged the client base to offer more targeted support.
However, the firm’s biggest achievement was recognising that the team’s health and wellbeing must come first. To keep the morale up Sharon sent her team gifts and treats to keep the spirits up and to ensure they felt valued.
The overall standard of entries and effort expended in supporting clients was monumental and as representatives of the profession our entrants all the entrants to this category deserve our thanks and congratulations. This award was an overwhelming demonstration of accountants going the extra mile to help their clients make it through the lockdowns and pandemic restrictions. There were hundreds, if not thousands of hours of online webinars and Zoom consultations on show. Plus huge quantiies of effort dedicated to reading, digesting and communicate the latest government guidance on different schemes. While Kinder Pocock set the bar very high, mention should be made to all of the firms who took the time to submit entries, including Coalesco, Harland Accountants, Raffingers, Pink Pig Financials, Crunch, Ascentis Accountants, Woods Squared, Hallidays, Roslyns, Seymour Taylor, Cooper Parry, UHY Hacker Young (East), Charnwood Accountants, Inform Accounting, Lewis Brownlee, Rouse Partners, A4G, Pentins Business Advisers.
Covid Hero Supplier Award
The judges recognised that the payroll software went above and beyond to support payroll professionals at a time when they were under pressure with furlough claims and trying to interpret guidance.
BrightPay’s strategy went beyond timely product enhancements, with a range of blogs, webinars and thousands and thousands of support calls. Their success was evidenced by impressive customer satisfaction ratings and NPS score.
Covid Hero Individual Award
Ria-Jaine Lincoln was awarded the individual award in a closely fought category. The Class of 2020 practitioner rushed to the aid of her clients in the beauty sector and supported them with cashflow forecasts and helped a sector on its knees secure government support loans, furlough and make difficult decisions.
She offered this round the clock help while shoulding her own personal challenges, as the effects of lockdown took its toll on her children’s mental wellbeing, all while trying to navigate the uncertainty of growing a practice in its first year.
When Lincoln realised that her advice and the government support could only go so far to assist a forgotten industry which had shut down and was in need of a stimulus, she launched a campaign to call on the government to extend hospitality support to the beauty sector.
The duty to help beauty campaign garnered thousands of signatures and Lincoln worked with clients to advocate the case to their local MPs. In addition to this campaign, she also educated the sector beyond her clients on the importance of cashflow through webinars and articles in the beauty trade press.
The judges also gave a special mention to Glenn Martin. Better known by his AccountingWEB moniker Glennzy, the Durham-based accountant also went the extra mile for his clients as the virus affected his family and he took refuge in an empty hotel to ensure his support didn’t miss a beat.
Martin moved quickly as soon as lockdown hit and advised clients with a lively WhatsApp group, Facebook updates, personal action plans and weekly catch ups followed by regular webinars with a range of professionals. He utilised every resource he had to ensure no one was left behind.
Martin's practical initiatives and efforts helped his clientbase access millions in CBILs, BBLs, furlough and other schemes, while his advice guided clients into new service lines. In addition to achieving all this by himself and his two part time staff, Martin also showed a commitment to supporting his peer group.