As the problems of 2020 finally begin to dissipate, what can smart accountancy firms do to thrive in what looks set to be a similarly turbulent 2021?
First, let’s treat ourselves to wallowing in the good news for a moment: on 8 December, 91-year-old Margaret Keenan from Coventry became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after it was approved by UK authorities.
There’s a long way to go yet but, finally, after months of disruption, anxiety and uncertainty, we can see a glimpse of the path out of this mess.
Professor Tim Spector, the public face of the COVID symptom study which has done so much to inform and reassure during 2020, said in a webinar on 11 December that…
“The acute problem, I think, will be over by April…. I am optimistic that if we can just get our mental state together until Easter, we can hang on in there, it’s going to get a lot more pleasant after that – we can start to relax a bit..”
Apart from the relief this brings to us all personally, for business, it means plans for 2021 can start to come together – even if they’re tempered with caution.
And let’s face it, there’s still plenty to be cautious about.
Brexit, long COVID and the economy
The first and biggest concern for many businesses will be the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021.
At the time of writing, the Prime Minister is personally negotiating with EU leaders in the hope of avoiding a no-deal scenario. While a no-deal Brexit may well cause turbulence, it’s the fact that so little is certain so close to the wire that’s most concerning.
Accountants have spent the past nine months answering questions from clients frantically trying to counteract the effects of COVID-19. They’ll now have to deal with similar queries about Brexit, with similarly scant guidance from the Government.
Our advice here, as always, is to make smart use of automated client communications to provide updates as soon as you have them, before clients feel the need to pick up the phone.
Then there’s the fact that COVID-19 won’t exactly be over in 2021. Some have reported symptoms lasting for months in a phenomenon known as ‘long COVID’. That might also be said to describe the social, cultural and economic trajectory we’re on.
Even if, as Professor Spector says, things are loosening up by Easter, we can expect continuing outbreaks, lingering restrictions and ongoing challenges for business.
In his recent spending review update, the Chancellor made it very clear that the UK faces significant economic challenges as a result of the spending necessary to tackle COVID-19.
His Budget speech in the spring is likely to start the process of clawing that money back with talk of increases in capital gains tax, one-off wealth taxes, adjustments to inheritance tax and more.
Whatever happens, we’ll be standing by to ensure Capium’s award-winning practice management software reflects any tax changes as soon as possible.
Where are the opportunities?
With increasing stability, potential new clients who have been reluctant to commit because of uncertainty may now be in a position to sign on the dotted line. Fire up your CRM and circle back to talk to all those prospects who pushed back earlier in the year.
While certain industries are wobbling and under threat, others have had a good year, at least in commercial terms.
Look at your client base and ask some tough questions – is it time to pivot away from, say, hospitality and into ecommerce, for example?
And if there are efficiencies to be made, by downsizing, automating or outsourcing, now’s the time to find them.
Whatever you do, don’t dither – act now and get ahead of the pack.
Give your accountancy practice the edge with the automation and efficiency made possible with Capium practice management software. Book your free demo today