Accountants: The key workers of small business survival

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It’s been more than six months since we first entered lockdown. In that time, we’ve seen thousands of businesses making radical changes to their working patterns through digitisation.

McKinsey recently found that we leapt forward ten years in just 90 days due to this rapid transformation. No truer is this felt than across the accounting industry. Many firms have really stepped up to the challenge of keeping their business running and supporting their clients.

Those accounting firms operating traditionally are now discovering that digital processes offer far greater scalability and resilience. Covid-19 is accelerating this transformation. Firms that weren’t using cloud computing or automating certain processes will be considering such technology now. 

It hasn’t been easy, and small businesses in particular have relied heavily on their accountant. Fresh Xero research has found that six in ten small businesses have relied on accountants for pandemic survival.  What’s more, 45 per cent admit that their accountant is more important to them than ever before. This shows just how crucial the industry’s support has been, and will continue to be in the months ahead.

Over half of the UK’s SMEs (63 per cent) have said that it’s down to the technology that their accountant or bookkeeper is using that means the service they’ve received has been undisputed. And a third of SMEs also revealed that the pandemic has led their accountant to adopt new forms of cloud-based technology.

For example, Xero Tax is a new cloud-based tool which enables firms to file tax and manage accounts from any location, and at any time. Software like this has enabled accountants to continue providing a service to their clients. It has also freed up time for them to support their small business clients in other crucial areas, like access to capital.

By using these types of tools to maintain efficiency, it’s not surprising that over half (58 per cent) of small businesses admit that their accountant is their most trusted business advisor. We’ve seen them go above and beyond.

For instance, by decoding the latest government announcements for small businesses. Pam Phillips, co-founder and MD of de Jong Phillips, released her first newsletter ‘coronavirus and our cash flow’ on 12th March, before most of us even knew what the word furlough means. Since then, Pam and her team have created countless videos, blogs and newsletters for clients, interpreting the ever-changing rules around the various government funding initiatives and support channels.

It’s clear that accountants and bookkeepers are amongst the  ‘key workers’ of the pandemic economic recovery – with SMEs heralding the critical role they have played alongside technology firms.

Whilst we still have a long way to go before the pandemic is behind us, accountants and bookkeepers have adapted efficiently and quickly to the changing surroundings. They have made a massive contribution to small business survival, and have shown huge resilience. Their skills and expertise will continue to be of great value to our economy as we recover and rebuild.

If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper in practice, sign up to the Xero partner programme, where you’ll get the tools, resources and dedicated account management to help get your practice and clients set up.

This content is brought to you by Xero.

Xero offers a cloud-based accounting software platform for small and medium-sized businesses..

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