“Pivot” was the buzzword in 2020 as business after business was forced to, well, pivot so as to rise up to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s neverending lockdowns.
Companies which, previously, had never worked remotely were forced to do so in the blink of an eye. What was supposed to be a tough few weeks in March 2020 has now become a way of life with no apparent end in sight.
As such, businesses have been forced to find new ways to monetise their services and, in some cases, to completely change the way they operate.
Here are some of the ways that we’ve noticed that accountancy practices are changing as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Offices aren’t as important as they once were
This is a contentious subject which has been raging for a while, with one side pushing for a complete WFH solution while the other pounds the drum for a total “Back to the Office” approach.
Many people have indeed seen that a hybrid model of WFH and Back-to-the-Office is something that employees are in favour of.
The office has long been a place where mums and dads could get away from the kids and actually get some work done. It is also a place where people can socialise and gain that human contact that people innately need.
But COVID has shown us that accountancy practices can indeed operate from home, and rather successfully.
Indeed, one of the things that We Run Your Practice has specialised in, even before the COVID lockdowns, has been this ability to work remotely because it forms such a core element of how we work.
The Office is usually one of the typical accountancy practice’s two largest overheads, the other being HR.
Before COVID, talk of shedding the office while still being considered a serious business was unheard of. Now, however, it is becoming more the norm than the exception.
Why pay valuable funds for unused space?
Accountants were possibly already more au fait with this subject than other businesses as a result of the government’s Making Tax Digital program which came into force for VAT returns before the pandemic hit.
But the use of cloud software for almost everything else has spiralled out to new levels — video conferencing tools, team collaboration tools, online project management tools, etc.
To think of running our practices without these tools, even if we do all return to a full-time office scenario again, is hard to imagine!
More digital marketing
The multiple lockdowns’ key message to people was that Digital Marketing is crucial to surviving in this modern age. Many Digital Marketing companies saw an increase in business during 2020 as businesses of all kinds scrambled to get their online presence under control — accountancy practices included.
Digital Marketing is affordable and effective. If done right, the ROI for such marketing can be far higher than traditional marketing.
Even “old and fusty” accountancy practices are probably now also seeing the benefits of embracing new technology to obtain clients.
From accountants to consultants
As a result of the plethora of financial schemes and aid announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, accountants across the UK ended up being extremely busy as they waded through the many rules surrounding each of the financial aid and loan packages on offer.
From advising clients with their applications to actually going ahead and filling in the applications themselves, it was just one more step for accountants to also start advising those same clients on how best to protect their cash flow in the midst of this crisis.
Willy nilly, UK accountants became the go-to resource for advice on furloughs, cash flow and anything else related to keeping businesses afloat.
A cursory look at the LinkedIn feeds of some UK accountants shows clearly that none of these consulting services were being charged for — but they could be, at least when the crisis is over.
Whereas many accounting firms have traditionally remained firmly within their groove as accountants, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely shown many accountancy firms that they can give good advice to businesses that is not entirely accountancy-related.
Cash flow and forecasting — advisory functions
Cash flow is the main reason one business will fail and another will not during this pandemic.
Moving forward, we predict that accountants and accountancy firms will start focussing a lot more on their clients’ cash flow as well as putting attention on financial forecasting and advisory services.
The importance of cash flow will have been driven home forcefully to many accountants as they watched powerlessly while some of their clients inevitably drowned in the flood of lockdowns and increased restrictions. Without cash, there is only so much a financial scheme from the government can do to keep one afloat.
A new age in accountancy
We Run Your Practice’s entire business model is built on the very elements required for businesses to survive the pandemic — remote working, cloud software, reduced costs and optimised efficiency.
If you would like to find out how to move your accountancy practice out of old limitations and into a new age of accountancy, please download our free ebook.