Kiwi accountancy firms are being advised to "keep going hard" in 2021 as Covid-19 continues to cause economic uncertainty.
The call, from Manoli Aerakis who heads up the Nelson office of chartered accountancy and business advisory firm Malloch McLean, comes as he says there is still a lot of stress within business in the regions, despite many of his clients experiencing a booming economy in recent months.
"Who knows what is going to happen next (with the pandemic)," he says. "We will have to wait and see what happens with the vaccine (this is not expected to be available until the second half of the year) but we tell our clients to keep going hard anyway."
The way in which Malloch McLean works with clients highlights the changing role of accountants, according to Charles Clark, co-founder and marketing director for Auckland-based SaaS company, BOMA.
"Compliance still makes up a large proportion of an accountant's revenue, but increasingly they are offering more high value advisory services," Clark says. "Covid-19 has led to businesses having to get their heads around issues like cash flow forecasting and also be abreast of latest subsidies and compliance changes that have arisen because of Covid."
BOMA assists accountancy firms with digital communication through an extensive content library containing articles on issues important to clients – a service that Malloch McLean uses extensively as part of its advisory service to its clients. The BOMA tool streamlines email and social media marketing into one platform and enables email and social media campaigns to be created and sent in minutes.
Aerakis believes the near constant communication his firm maintains with its clients, especially during the lockdowns, is important. Malloch McLean has over 1000 clients nationwide, including other accounting firms who they provide business coaching to, and Aerakis considers its strong association with BOMA has been key to this communication strategy.
"Access to this (the BOMA platform) was really good for us and our clients," Aerakis says. "Running a smarter better business is more important than ever in times such as we are going through. With BOMA's help we were able to schedule communications on social media with up-to-date information on issues which were often changing daily during Covid."
He says at the outset of the pandemic staff stopped work and spent a week phoning every client on its books to see how they were coping, "We wanted to identify those who needed help the most.
"We continue to touch base with clients at least every quarter and, with the content we get from BOMA, we put out three or four posts a month on topical issues affecting business," he says. "This fits in well with our business mentoring service; I don't believe you can be a trusted advisor if you are only communicating with clients once a year."
Aerakis says although there was a lot of gloom about when the pandemic hit, "the opposite happened and the regional economy boomed. It has been quite a phenomenal period; our own business, for example, has experienced significant year-on-year growth with a large number of new clients wanting more advisory and support.
"Despite Covid, not one of our clients was forced to close their doors and I think we should be okay in 2021; I don't see mass redundancies occurring."
He believes this is partly due to the baby boomer generation. "We are spoiled in the regions because there is a big bubble of boomers who have cash and who want to do things," he says.
Although Malloch McLean has clients throughout the country including some in Auckland, it primarily works with businesses in the regions from its Nelson office (where Aerakis is managing director) and its head office in Invercargill (the company was established there more than 80 years ago).
Meanwhile Clark says although the role of accountants has been evolving over a number of years - mainly due to cloud accounting products which have streamlined the traditional compliance focus for many firms, Covid-19 has quickened this trend.
He says BOMA offers a number of options for accountants to improve communication with clients. These include options enabling firms to design their own email and social media templates or use those from BOMA's library. It also offers clients a free image library, social media ads to reach new audiences and lead capture forms.
For more information on BOMA go to: bomamarketing.com