Accountants and bookkeepers are concerned about their clients' cash flow, and the subsequent impact on their own income, according to a new survey conducted by Senta.
Cash flow came out as the number one concern accountants have for their clients, followed by their inability to meet their tax repayments. Keeping on top of ever-changing government policy and managing changes in the workforce were also highlighted as areas of worry.
James Kilford, CEO of Senta comments:
“2020 has ripped up the rule book for so many businesses. COVID restrictions, furlough and – in the UK – Brexit, has meant new, unplanned-for pressures from all angles. We wanted to hear how the profession was coping, and how they were planning for the near future.
“Accountants from all over the world took part in the survey. It’s valuable insight for us – and for the profession. We’re talking to our clients all the time, but we wanted some firm data on what changes are coming our way.”
The survey found that accountants are generally feeling positive – 45% are feeling really excited and only 23% are dreading the next six months. But it’s going to be busy; 85% are expecting an increase in workload; with 54% expecting the profile of their work to change too.
“This is where it gets interesting,” continues James. “Over half of our respondents are expecting to increase staff numbers, develop new internal processes and implement new software in order to cope with the demand.”
Almost half of those questioned were concerned their clients are going to become more price sensitive when it comes to accountancy services. And 53% are concerned their clients are going to be preoccupied with managing their business and won’t be able to stay on top of important deadlines.
Changes on the horizon
Ever forward-thinking, the survey also tells us the profession is looking to adapt to survive. 57% envisage implementing new internal processes, 47% expect to embrace change in the form of new software – and they’re going to be recruiting too – with 59% saying they’re expecting to have to increase staff numbers.
In terms of concerns over pricing, there was an even split between accountants choosing to offer discounts or payment holidays and those holding firm. Ian Stanley-Maddocks, who runs Maddocks & Mallet LLP in Alberta, Canada is switching to fixed price billing. “We are migrating to fixed price monthly billing for all client services to better manage cash flows and reduce risk of non-payment by clients.”
Many accountants are diversifying their services – especially when it comes to the value add business advisory roles. Many are also looking to transition into offering additional services such as credit control management, Virtual FCs and tax diagnostics.
“The survey also tells us that client and accountant love is still strong with 94% of respondents measuring their relationship as excellent or good. Accountants remain an essential part of business life – we know from our accountant clients that the pandemic has motivated businesses to proactively seek advice and guidance. An accountant has never been so important. Cash flow is going to be critical for clients – and for accountancy firms. A big rise is work is anticipated – and there’s a desire to implement change and diversify services. There are exciting times ahead.”