The Opportunities Covid-19 Has Presented to Grow Your Accountancy Firm

18th August 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world in 2020 has had a dramatic impact on all of our lives, even if we haven’t been directly impacted by the deadly virus ourselves.

The UK is officially in a recession having experienced two successive quarters of economic decline. Between the months of April and June 2020, when the UK was in peak lockdown, the economy dropped by 20.4 per cent which is the second largest economic decline, after Spain, announced by any major nation to date. This is the first time that the UK has been in recession for 11 years and there is no doubting the fact that this has been caused by the global pandemic with people not needing to, and in many cases not able to, go out and spend.

However, as we start to return to some kind of “new normality”, there is light at the end of the tunnel with people starting to go back to work or, at the very least, coming off furlough and working from home once more.

Signs of growth in a recession

As businesses start to find their feet again there is a different way of looking at the financial impact of Covid-19 and while it may have caused the permanent closure for many businesses and thousands of job losses in the process, there are sectors that can capitalise on the financial insecurity such as accountancy firms.

The government said that the economy had already started to show signs of growth dating back to May and June (which saw 8.7 per cent growth month on month), and the recession itself is mostly down to the sudden closure of shops, businesses, pubs and restaurants in the month of April when we were placed in full lockdown.

Business growth might not be the kind of thing you’d expect to be focussing on during a recession, but there are industries that are managing to take on more staff and more customers. Accountancy firms are a prime example in this respect as businesses call upon their financial expertise to monitor and control their finances during a period of uncertainty.

Top Tips to Grow Your Accountancy Firm

In order to provide you with the very best recommendations we spoke to a number of financial experts to get their top tips to grow your accountancy firm – even in a post-pandemic recession.

Different times call for a different approach

Let’s not beat about the bush here, we’re in a recession and a time when people are seriously concerned for the future of their jobs – and businesses. The opportunities to grow are there, there are just less of them and your approach needs to take this into consideration. While you may have been attending all kinds of events and conferences pre-Coronavirus and picking up clients that way, your approach will need to be adapted and might be more digitally focussed.

In recent months engagement with marketing emails, organic search traffic and live chat conversations have all increased while social media continues to provide valuable interaction between companies and their clients. This shows that putting out valuable content in the form of on-site articles and copy, email marketing campaigns and quality social media posts can make a big difference and if you’ve got the capability to do all of these things then you can grow your accountancy firm by investing more of your efforts into these digital channels rather than relying on your traditional forms of marketing.

Name: Marie Craig

Position: Associate Director

Website: www.baldwinsaccountants.co.uk

Use the latest technologies and ways of working

Moving with the times is going to be key as we move forward and accountancy firms are no different. Approaches used successfully for many years may now be outdated and it is time to embrace new technologies and ways of working.

Marie Craig, an Associate Director at Baldwin’s, told us how they – like many others – have been using digital platforms and services to grow.

“Our job throughout the pandemic has been to help businesses survive,” she said. “We’ve generally been there to help clients get through this period and even plan for the future, and now it’s a case of getting them back on their feet and looking for new opportunities.”

Marie went on to tell us that “some businesses have been streamlining their internal accounts teams and using an external finance function that has given us opportunities to grow, and using the latest cloud software throughout the business has meant that this has been a relatively straightforward process.

“We’ve also held a number of webinars under the theme ‘survive, revive, thrive’ which have received some really positive feedback and helped out clients to understand the ever-changing government guidelines.”

Consult your team members for feedback and suggestions

Carol Tompkins, Business Development Consultant from the UK-based Accounts Portal gave her recommendations for accountancy business growth, suggesting that firms “need to devise new, sustainable business strategies that can foster recovery and growth, post-Covid.”

“These strategies need to take into account the perspectives of every company stakeholder, and how this crisis has affected them,” she said.

It may be that employees have learnt new skills during the lockdown period, or that they believe there are newer and more efficient ways of working rather than the traditional office-based method. It may also be the case that employees have thought about the future of their employers and how practices can be improved. Consulting with them could unearth a wealth of new opportunities to grow.

Name: Carol Tompkins

Position: Business Development Consultant

Website: www.accountsportal.com

Be honest, professional and an expert in your field

The Association of Accounting Technicians have published a number of articles recently relating to the effects of Covid-19 on their sector.

In one of these articles a client reported that “We’ve just had our busiest quarter ever. With new rules and regulations, VAT reductions, grants, help with furloughed staff and cash flow issues, we have been crucial in terms of offering advice and support. We’ve actually been hiring during this period as there’s even more work than ever to do.”

What this proves is that accountants and accountancy firms have been invaluable to their clients throughout such a tough time. Offering honest, professional financial advice in a time when money hasn’t been coming in as it would have normally has meant that businesses can make informed decisions on growth, staffing and returning to work with recommendations leading to growth opportunities for their trusted accountants.

Name: Simon Thomas

Position: Managing Director

Website: www.ridgefieldconsulting.co.uk

Move away from traditional approaches, reach out and focus on staff

The Association of Accounting Technicians have published a number of articles recently relating to the effects of Covid-19 on their sector.

Simon Thomas, the Managing Director of Ridgefield Consulting from Oxford, gave us three recommendations having experienced a period of growth themselves during the lockdown period. He told us:

Move away from traditional accountancy services. As a result of Covid-19, people’s priorities have changed and are now looking to their accountants for more support than ever. It’s no longer about filing the tax return, but ensuring their businesses survive.

In Oxford especially, we’re seeing businesses adapt by providing delivery services and as such we’re responding with advice on how to make this as tax efficient as possible such as whether to use company cars or vans.

Expand your reach. One of the many changes caused by Covid-19 is the move to online and remote working. This is a real opportunity for many accountancy firms to grow.

Although we’re based in Oxford and pride ourselves in supporting the local community, we’re finding that businesses from London and neighbouring counties are reaching out to us. They’re happy for telephone consultation instead of face to face so long as the service levels and responsiveness remains high.

Reduce staff stress. Another benefit we have found is that by becoming more flexible and allowing staff to work from home and adapt their hours around family commitments, staff morale has significantly improved. In fact, many of our team relish the opportunity to come into the office as a break from the kids! It has improved productivity as our accountants can focus on their roles as they are not pressured to conform to “old-normal” expectations.

Keep adapting your methods

Finally, just because you’ve adapted your approach doesn’t mean your work is done and you have a new path to follow. These are unprecedented times and that means things can change very quickly, and your business growth plans will need to do so too. What might be working one week, might not be so effective the next and you need to be ready and willing to continue adapting during these uncertain times.

This list is by no means exhaustive and we’d love to hear any other top tips that you may have for growing an accountancy firm over the coming weeks, months and years. Of course, one other way of growing your business is with Meet Hugo.

Our sales intelligence platform helps generate new business for your company enabling you to grow – even through the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Speak to a member of the sales team to book a demo and learn more about how we can generate more qualified leads.

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