Having written about the necessary need to protect your practice, Philip Fisher considers how Brexit can be used to promote and grow your practice.
Harking back to the Accountex survey, not only did 33% of accountants report that clients were requesting help as far back as January but, helpfully for us, it also identified that 88% of respondents found the government and HMRC’s strategic guidance and information for clients and businesses inadequate.
This means that any client who needs advice about the consequences of Brexit for their business will not be able to obtain it from their usual ports of call for free assistance. Therefore, where better to go than that friendly, neighbourhood accountant?
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From our perspective, this means getting up to speed on as much data as possible, although there may not be that much available yet. This could relate to accounting, auditing, tax, immigration or business practice particularly where there are sales or purchases between this country and others in the European Union.
Obviously, the position is going to be that much more critical for clients with a UK base and branches or subsidiaries on mainland Europe or those with a head office there.
There are a number of ways in which practices might be able to develop business either directly or indirectly from the increasingly chaotic efforts of our rulers to implement “the will of the people” and leave Europe in a more or less orderly fashion.
At a simple level, this is a perfect opportunity to contact clients who might need our services but never get around to asking. Y
You might have to put up with a few minutes of angry ear bashing about ludicrous decision to leave Europe or the risk that Project Fear will prevent it from happening.
In exchange, any chance to chat with clients is an opportunity to sell services or request referrals. None of this has anything directly to do with Brexit but business generation is our lifeblood and it can be difficult to find reasons to contact busy clients.
More directly, many clients will be feeling vulnerable. They may need to rearrange their business structures and practices, which could require a great deal of strategic advice from accountants.
Alternatively, they may seek to expand as rivals struggle to keep their heads above water. This could be a perfect opportunity to speak with them and maybe even bring in a highly profitable project relating to a merger or acquisition.
At the other end of the scale, one must imagine that banks will begin to consider the security of their investments and may seek to take proactive steps to ensure that this is the case.
If your clients happen to be on the wrong end of such a review, they are likely to need accounts in a hurry and may then require the services of a business recovery or insolvency practitioner.
With the potential for changes to tax and tariff legislation once Britain finally leaves the European Union, there will inevitably be further work for accountants.
Brexit could be an opportunity to develop a new niche, either as a tax specialist in a previously untested area or, more widely, as a general consultant who is known in the industry to have taken the trouble to master the issues arising where businesses wish to expand, contract or make changes.
Finally, if clients find that they have staffing issues, there may well be a need for support from your firm.
If finance staff with European connections (or otherwise) move on then you might be the only constant on whom anyone can rely.
Accountants are not always renowned for their ingenuity and imagination. But this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand your business. So why not make hay while the sun shines?