Accountants are gaining recognition as the unsung business heroes of the current pandemic, with research suggesting they are the key go-to advisor, while a business improvement consultancy has launched a new award to acknowledge their contribution
A survey of 1,000 small business owners by market research company Biznography found that in comparison to other key business service providers, accountants have been more helpful, more available, and more proactive in supporting SMEs through Covid-19.
The poll asked SMEs to rate the performance of banks, accountants, landlords, enterprise software, payment providers and communications providers.
The results show 59% rate the level of support received from their accountant as quite or very good, compared to an average of 52%.
Almost all (97%) of those SMEs attempting to reach their accountant by phone were successful, higher than the average of 85%.
Half (53%) agreed that their accountant proactively helped with cost cutting / cashflow measures to help their business survive in response to Covid-19, compared to an average of 40%.
The research also revealed that accountants outperform other business support services such as banks and landlords as the key go to advisor. For example, 82% of SMEs had contacted their accountant since the start of Covid-19 compared to 67% for banks.
Cara Berry, founder and director of Biznography, said: ‘Not only have accountants been the most approachable service provider during the pandemic, their proactive advice has also been recognised by clients.
‘And it’s a win: win. Those that proactively helped their SME clients with cost-cutting/cashflow measures, saw a significant net gain in perceptions, whereas for clients not receiving proactive support, perceptions of their accountant saw a net loss.’
Meanwhile AVN, which offers coaching and training for accountants who work with owner managed businesses, has launched an award for accountants who have been supporting their clients during the pandemic.
Called the ‘Surthrival Competition’, AVN is encouraging accountants to send in their story or stories about professional life during lockdown, recounting what they have done to help clients navigate their way through Covid-19 and the difference it made.
The winner of the ‘Excellence In Challenging Times Award’ will receive £2,000 cash to spend on celebrations with their team, as well as business improvement advice worth £12,000.
Shane Lukas, AVN managing director, said: ‘We know that accountants have worked hard for their clients. They’ve stayed awake at night figuring out how best to help clients in need.
‘They’ve worked long hours; they’ve been their support and counsel; they’ve worked their hardest to get the funding to help them survive and given advice to help them adapt and once-again, thrive.
‘Taking stock and considering the wonderful difference accountants have made is important. It’s easy to keep battling on. I believe they need to take time out to consider the impact they’re having.’
The deadline for entries to the competition is 10 July.