Insights

Virtual event: Poll reveals urgent need for accountants to provide cashflow management and consultancy

By Modulr on 29 April 2020   •   4 mins read

As businesses navigate this period of economic turbulence and uncertainty, they’re turning to their accountants for support and demanding cashflow management and consulting services. This was revealed in a live poll during a Modulr hosted event featuring speakers from Sage, iwoca and KMPG. 

The virtual event about ‘Insourcing vs outsourcing’ was hosted by Lea-Jane Baird, Product Manager at Modulr, who was joined by a panel of accounting experts:

  • Chris Downing, Director for Accountants and Bookkeepers, Sage
  • Jenny Raithby, Senior Manager, Client Services Payroll, KPMG
  • Mat White, Accountant Relationships Manager, iwoca
  • Tom Kelly, Account Director, Modulr
Watch the virtual event on demand

A key topic on the agenda was how accountants are pivoting their services to provide better support for clients through this challenging period.

Clients are demanding cashflow management and consulting

We asked audience participants from UK accounting practices about what their clients expect from them in today’s environment. The top two client demands were for cashflow management (41%) and consultancy and management (41%) services.

Accountants were more than twice as likely to cite client demand for these strategic services than for help with traditional tasks like bookkeeping (18%).

And the panellists agreed that the COVID-19 situation is having a significant impact on what clients expect from their accountants.

“Accountants everywhere are shifting their approach. Businesses want to be able to talk through their challenges with them. It’s almost becoming a therapy environment,” said Mat White, Accountant Relationships Manager, iwoca. “There’s a big demand for assistance with loan schemes, and making sure staff are equipped with the right technology to do their roles remotely.”

Chris Downing, Director for Accountants and Bookkeepers at Sage, agreed: “Businesses across the UK are going through uncertainty and disruption. And they’re calling on their accountants for guidance. A big part of this is interpreting all the new legislation, for example job retention and furlough schemes, tax deferrals and funding possibilities.”

Jenny Raithby, Senior Manager, Client Services Payroll, KPMG, had also experienced a shift: “We’ve had a lot of client requests for support with payroll. Many clients are looking for help with the government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS) scheme – figuring out what payments need to be made to employees, and how.”

“Demand is the real challenge here,” added Chris Downing. “Not only are accountants having to work in new ways themselves, suddenly they have hundreds of clients who are all needing urgent help at the same time. That’s completely unprecedented.”

Watch the full virtual event here.

How can accountants provide the best support to clients right now?

“Over the last few years in general, payroll services have been increasing in complexity,” said Jenny Raithby. “That’s why our big priority right now is flexibility. And some of the long-standing payment methods, such as Bacs, don’t offer that. We need to provide solutions that allow more time-based flexibility with payments.”

“Your first priority will be helping your clients survive the immediate situation,” said Chris Downing. “After that, it’s important to help them bounce back and plan for future growth. You also need to help clients build resilience into their future operations. It’s clearer than ever that every business needs an operational back-up plan.”

“Start by assessing your own situation,” advised Mat White. “As a business owner yourself, what are you planning to do? Whether you’re thinking about how to get staff on a furlough scheme or how to implement better remote working, those are issues that other businesses will also be thinking about. Take those challenges and see what solutions you can offer to your client base.”

What are the main services your clients are looking to you to deliver?

 

Consultancy and management accounting

41%

Cashflow management

41%

Bookkeeping

18%

Watch the full virtual event to get the experts’ insights and discover:

  • How accountants are stepping up to the task and supporting clients during COVID-19
  • What opportunities are emerging for accountants thanks to new technologies
  • How the accountancy business model is changing as a result of automation

You can also register for upcoming virtual events here.

Our special thanks to Chris Downing at Sage, Jenny Raithby at KPMG and Mat White at iwoca for their participation and insights.