Findings for the future | news

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We all know how difficult it has been for the accountant profession and their clients. Accountants and bookkeepers have been at the forefront of finance all this time, working tirelessly to help businesses deal with it. They have spearheaded efforts to keep the economy afloat, solicit government initiatives on behalf of their customers, provide critical cash flow planning and liquidity projections, and generally advise companies on how to cope with this once-in-a-lifetime situation.

COVID-19 has affected businesses in all industries, and on the financial front have been accountants and bookkeepers. They work tirelessly to help companies cope with uncertainty while adapting to new, distant ways of working.

Here at Silverfin we had the privilege of meeting over 150 accountants in more than 20 events last year and hearing how they went through one of the toughest times to remember.

Our most important findings from these discussions are summarized in this report and this address:

  1. We’re helping customers cope with the pressures of COVID-19.
  2. Still maintaining and managing long-term change in your company.
  3. Integrating Technology to Be Successful.

The observations from our breakfast participants not only summarize the profound effects of 2020 on the job, but also provide a blueprint for how companies should approach the future.

2020 may be over, but the lessons we have all learned will affect the accounting profession in the years to come.

Management of long-term changes in the company

The pressure from COVID-19 was obviously the focus of attention during the breakfast briefings last year, but it definitely wasn’t the only topic of conversation. Many of the accountants we’ve spoken to have also spoken about how they have made progress in making long-term changes in the company. This ranged from redefining their role and customer service to figuring out how to win the War for Talents. The most successful companies have a healthy focus on short-term management and maintaining their long-term plan for change.

Manage increasing customer expectations

Customer expectations have gone through the roof. We live in a 24/7 world where everything is available instantly. Nobody likes to wait for something anymore. Deliveries. Service. Your accountant is supposed to reach out to you with an answer to a question. Mistakes are even less acceptable than they used to be. Human error is one thing, but in the age of automation and artificial intelligence, you are expected to always be right and be quick with the answer.

The cloud plays an important role in helping accountants make this transition successfully. It enables clients and accountants in different locations, even on continents, to access data in real time, wherever they are. It is worth remembering that these rising expectations are a good thing. The profession is far more valuable to customers than ever, and customers’ demands for time and insight reflect this. It is crucial to rise to the challenge.

Accelerating the transition to counseling services

We’re seeing a growing discussion about shifting customer demand from compliance and reporting to providing advisory services. In 2020, this change will be more evident than ever. This puts the quality of advice from auditors in the spotlight. We heard accountants helped clients with:

  1. You decide whether to keep employees, leave them on leave or lay them off.
  2. Identify areas for cost savings.
  3. Determination of remuneration for owners and shareholders.
  4. Weighing whether to close certain locations.
  5. Planning for the future.

This list is also far from complete. This shift in focus (from compliance to advisory) has been a long time coming and 2020 has accelerated this transition. Today more than ever, customers need help determining whether their business is profitable in the short, medium and long term.

Receive critical support from complex government-sponsored initiatives

The government has put in place a number of initiatives to help businesses from the Vacation / Coronavirus Job Retention Program to the Coronavirus Business Disruption Loan Program to the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan. That said, keeping yourself up to date and then applying is harder than it may seem. There are long and detailed conditions as to who can and cannot apply. The application process itself means paperwork and filling out forms. Many of the accountants we spoke to have spent countless days soliciting new government initiatives for their clients.

Read more about the conversations we had with these leading accountants in 2020. The expert insights we have received from them on the profession and their views on understanding the challenges and opportunities auditors will face in 2021.

Download the whitepaper here.

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