We are finding ourselves in unprecedented times. No one could have predicted such uncertainty and ruin.
The coronavirus pandemic certainly has accountants scrambling to safeguard their anxious clients. Cash flows are in a state of turmoil as the impairing effects of the lockdowns prevail.
Both the accounting firms and its clients face these naturally promulgated challenges simultaneous. The difference is that accounting firms hold the financial management expertise, whilst the business owner is equipped with the affection and knowledge for his/her product or service. This makes for a necessary partnership between two independent parties.
The business owner is in no doubt considering survival tactics to bridge his or her tangible challenges as well as assumed and predicted losses. This obvious and natural reaction is different for different people as we are all differently wired.
The reality is that no one has the luxury of showcasing any margin of indifference towards the economical and mental anguish of COVID-19. The technical consequences of our survival decisions are, however, real and could leave us with a mountain of debt or regret. There is extraordinarily little margin for error as market prospects continue to decline and funding agencies tightening their appetite for risk. In addition, and to be expected, spending patterns are plagued by astonishing levels of emotionally driven behaviour.
Models that run on predictability such as budgeting, are suddenly less reliable. These conditions leave businesses owners with escalating emotions and create an unbecoming business paradox. Accountants that are worthy of their presumed navy attire and professional DNA, have an opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of their clients. This can be done by assuming an advisory role that they were equipped with but may have opted not to include it in their basic offering.
The top accounting firms annually declare large sums of turnover from their consulting endeavours. This income stream has been neglected by smaller firms; it can be argued that this obvious display of economical naivety is aligned to an unintended alliance to old school bookkeeping.
Our present reality is that business survival is priority. Accounting firms must therefore advice and support their clients in a proactive manner. The cost of such advice should be bartered against retaining their client base.
There is significant value that can be exchanged based on goodwill or calculated goodwill, depending who you are dealing with. In return accounting firms can improve their advice-exchange skill levels. This may lead to the development of additional income stream for their practices, obviously post the pandemic.
I urge the profession not to ignore its professional responsibility. We at UC Accountants, have included tax objections and debt relief-advice and assistance as pertinent in our advisory offering in response to rising SARS and debt challenges for clients.
In addition, we support our clients with cash management strategies, innovation and turn around tactics. This makes us relevant and responsible. As accounting firms, we are responsible to secure the sustainability of each of our clients, in doing so we secure the sustainability of a nation.
I encourage my peers to share knowledge freely, and to do so proactively. This is a calling, not a call for profiteering.
Bongani Skosana (BAP (SA) GTP SA),
CEO: UC Accountants (Accounting, Consulting, Tax)