As business owners, we’re used to dealing with all kinds of challenges, but COVID-19 has tested our resilience and initiative to the limits. For many of us, the focus of the last nine months or so has been on survival rather than growth and development.
At least it seems we’re ending the year on a positive note. The news that a vaccine may soon be available gives us cause to hope that things could return to something like normal in spring 2021.
Usually, as the year draws to a close, we like to take a little time to reflect on things, but this year we appreciate that no-one is likely to want to spend too long dwelling on the annuls horribilis that was 2020. Instead, we’d like to ask the question at the top of this post:
Has your accountant self-isolated from you through the pandemic?
We believe it’s a very relevant question. Besides you and your team, nobody is closer to or has more insight into your business than your accountant, and it’s when times are tough that you really need their support and advice.
In the same way that a dog isn’t just for Christmas, your accountant shouldn’t only be there for you when the going is good.
Depending on the nature of your business and the arrangement you have with your accountant, routine services such as providing ad-hoc advice, running payroll, preparing end of year accounts, filing tax returns and the like should be a given. The real test of the relationship is how your accountant supports you in a crisis.
At Inca, we’ve always provided a service that involves much more than totting up the numbers and ensuring compliance. For us, caring is a core value – it’s there in our strapline – and we go out of our way to help our clients succeed, surrounding them with all the tools, support and advice they need. It’s a proven formula that improves the odds of an Inca client reaching their 5th anniversary by 185% compared to the national average!
During the pandemic, we’ve invested even more time and effort into the relationships we have with our clients, supporting them with a range of initiatives that include:
- Regular email updates signposting access to funding & government support.
- Free online workshops to help clients trade through the crisis. Topics addressed have included using technology to predict cashflow & exploring new ways of selling.
- Free, fully-managed service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – reporting furloughed employees & processing reimbursements on behalf of clients.
- Free, fully-managed service for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping clients impacted by COVID-19 claim their grants.
- Free access to cash flow software for clients using Xero & QuickBooks online – enabling them to produce a three-month cash flow projection instantly.
- Making ourselves available for moral as well as professional support. We know how isolated it can feel running a business – especially now. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve actively encouraged clients to get in touch with us for a phone call or video chat whenever they need an empathetic, listening ear.
Our response balances extending as much support to our clients as we reasonably can with our own financial position. We believe that in the long-term, the approach we’re taking will benefit us as well as our clients.
If you’re an Inca client, let us know what you think of the service we’ve provided throughout the pandemic. We’ve had lots of positive feedback from clients about the approach we’ve taken, but we’re always striving to improve – so if you’re an Inca client and have any suggestions about how we could do better, please let us know.
And if you’re NOT an Inca client, we’d love to know about the service you’ve received from your accountant since March. We’ve been told of some practices that have simply not engaged with clients at all, and others who’ve used the situation to their advantage, charging substantial fees for furloughing and other services related to the pandemic. We’re sure these kinds of responses must be exceptions and not the rule, but what has your experience been? Have you found your accountant’s approach sharing and compassionate – or something less than this.?