Recession sparks new advisory offering

Clive Lewis, ICAEW

Clive Lewis, ICAEW

As business braces itself for recession some accounting firms have set up
special units and advice services to help clients weather the tough economic

Goldstein Lieberman, a US-based accounting firm, has launched a service to
assist clients in designing contingency plans for riding out the credit crunch.

Philip Goldstein, managing partner of the firm, said the adoption of the
Recession Expert Accounting Consultant Team has given clients greater insight in
responding to the decline in market conditions.

‘Now a recovery programme is underway there will be daily challenges as well
as opportunities,’ he said.

In the UK,
PricewaterhouseCoopers has
issued information to advisers across the business, which is then used as a
template when advising clients. A PwC website,,
includes advice on scenario planning, competitive cost-position assessment and
business optimisation analysis.

Richard Punt, head of strategy consulting at
said the firm has no plans to establish a dedicated contingency team, but
advisers across the firm are already advising clients on measures to combat

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, experts said accountants should see the
downturn as an opportunity rather than a threat. They believe accountants are
well placed to expand in the SME sector and cement their reputation as valued
business advisers.

The downturn will also place renewed emphasis on one cornerstone of
accounting ­ tracking cash in and out of the business.

Late payment by suppliers is irritating when the economy is booming, but can
become a serious problem when the economy slows.

Often it is the informal advice and support beyond time-logged billable
services that SMEs most appreciate. ‘It’s about holding a client’s hand through
the difficult times,’ Clive Lewis, head of SME issues at the
Institute of Chartered
Accountants in England and Wales
told Accountancy Age last year.

One way of doing this is bringing business clients together to discuss common
worries and share advice.

‘Some accounting firms will write to a dozen clients to their offices,’ he
says. ‘There might be a presentation from a bank and one of the firm’s partners
to indicate where the market is going.’

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