Accountancy Profession’s Response to Coronavirus Video Discussions

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Accountancy Age is hosting live video conversations with leading accountants every other Friday for them to share how they’re responding to the challenges they face and how they’ll continue to support and navigate their clients through the crisis.

The next hour long discussion will take place at 2pm on the 2nd October and will focus on key areas such as cash management, counterparty risk, security risk, business recovery; as well as understanding how to benefit from government assistance.

Theme: How will Technology Transform the Audit Process and the Accountancy Function in the Future?

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Previous discussions are available to view on-demand below.

Discussion 10

This week’s one hour discussion provided insights in these key areas:

Talking Points:

  • Ongoing resilience, and an infrastructure that allows continuously high-quality client service no matter where practitioners may work from
  • Data security, in response to more threats and less control of data
  • Cost-effectiveness, by removing IT costs and increasing productivity

Speakers:

  • Chris Knowles, Chief Digital Officer, RSM
  • Adam Ryan, Chief Services Officer, Calligo
  • Tom Lemmon, Reporter, Accountancy Age

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 9

This week’s one hour discussion provided insights in these key areas:

  • The importance of business plans
  • Planning amidst great uncertainty
  • Whether the government’s actions have been enough to support businesses

Speakers:

  • Peter Kubik, Partner, UHY
  • Brian Johnson, Turnaround & Recovery Partner, UHY
  • Tom Lemmon, Reporter, Accountancy Age

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 8

This week’s one hour discussion provided insights in these key areas:

  • Employee morale for service led firms
  • Financial survival vs Employee needs
  • Factors to consider for returning to the office

Speakers:

  • Giles Murphy, Head of Professional Practices, Smith & Williamson
  • Joe Beeston, Senior Associate, Employment Law, Forsters LLP
  • Tom Lemmon, Reporter, Accountancy Age

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 7

This week’s one hour discussion provided insights in these key areas:

  • Digital Transformation
  • Governmental Support
  • Client Strategy
  • Future of the Accountancy Industry
  • Impact on the Global Economy

Speakers:

  • Sairam Natarajan, Senior Manager, National Quality and Risk Management, Deloitte
  • Andrew Harding, Chief Executive, CIMA
  • Michael McCaw, Editor, Accountancy Age

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 6

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the sixth discussion:

  • Alexander & Co. partner, Stephen Verber, explained the measures that his Manchester-based firm took ahead of lockdown to ensure a smooth transition, including getting their IT services up-to-date and preparing employees for last-minute remote working changes.
  • Paul Copland, head of audit at EY, said that “over the last couple of years, we’ve been pushing the concept of dynamic working,” and although the Big Four firm was capable of remote working at-scale, they never anticipated it would happen. However, the firm introduced remote working ahead of the official lockdown, allowing them to test their IT effectiveness ahead of the game.
  • Accountants have been under pressure to add more value to their services, and Verber says that accountants are “being used for more effective, more practical services,” citing the CJRS announcement and work the industry has done to support clients. Copland agreed, saying that the first six weeks of lockdown saw a flurry of questions from clients.
  • The return to a physical office doesn’t seem to be a major priority for employees, with both Verber and Copland saying any return to the office will be guided by government advice and employee desires. “When our staff are ready and comfortable to transition back, we’ll transition back,” Copland said, adding that when the physical office returns, it will include measures that make employees feel comfortable to be back in that space.

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, Editor, Accountancy Age
  • Paul Copland, Audit Partner, Ernst & Young
  • Stephen Verber, Partner, Alexander & Co

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 5

This discussion focused on MTD delay an accountech disruption and how technology transformation can further assist a speedy recovery and build long-term resilience.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • “There’s nothing like a good crisis to change behaviour” The use of technology has skyrocketed during coronavirus due to necessity, which has pushed companies to become more comfortable with the technology they use – and change it, if necessary.
  • The government’s quick technological response to CJRS may ramp up the overall pace of technology. As companies realise what is possible with their technology, they’ll continue to adapt their services, he added.
  • As services change, firms may also decide to overhaul their ways of working, spurred by lockdown rules. Lillie cited a Deloitte report which found that 54% of respondents wanted to continue working from home more often after lockdown, while Hurst said that there’s an industry craving for work flexibility.
  • Before the pandemic, 2020 was already slated to be a year of digital transformation. Lillie said that the pandemic was the ‘jolt’ many businesses needed to embrace digital, cloud-first technology, and that those who reacted quickly have reaped the rewards.
  • Hurst added that the accounting industry is undergoing a major shift, and those firms who hesitate risk being left behind. The pandemic has proven that the industry can change, and as more firms undergo digital transformations, the playing field will be further levelled

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, Editor, Accountancy Age
  • Mark Lillie, Global Technology, Strategy and Transformation Lead, Deloitte
  • Stuart Hurst, Director of Cloud Accounting, UHY Hacker Young

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 4

The fourth discussion focused on government assistance, adaptation and the future for new talent.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Working with clients on Government coronavirus intervention has been challenging, as different organisations have received different information – partly due to the fast pace of these Government programmes. “Everybody’s learning at the same time,”.
  • The pandemic has forced many markets to adapt. Such as a struggling pizza restaurant deciding to react to market demand and provide bake-at-home pizza kits. In turn, this bolstered their cashflow and has allowed them to fill a niche in the market – much like accountants can do.
  • The stream of new talent coming into the profession will begin returning to normal, but recruits need to be patient. Students waiting on internships have also been impacted, but there will be a constant need for new talent. Recruits should spend this time polishing their CVs and working to diversify their skills.
  • Internships may change in form, depending on the length of lockdown. Some internships may become virtual or otherwise change their form. While waiting for these changes, students are advised to find ways to make themselves stand out once a sense of normalcy has been re-established.
  • Accountants should look for ways to add value to their services, such as being a sounding board for clients and offering support to business leaders. Technology can help facilitate this e.g. scenario planning to cashflow forecasting, but accountants need to actively look for solutions.

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, Editor, Accountancy Age
  • Feargal McCormack, Managing Director, PKF-FPM
  • Andy Atkins, Partner, Bulley Davey
  • Ian Brown, Consultant, Bulley Davey

View the on-demand discussion here

Discussion 3

Our third discussion focused on IR35, the VAT deferral, and searching for the new norm during this global pandemic.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • While IR35 has been delayed due to coronavirus, contractors and freelancers will still be affected. “Some small businesses have had to be very innovative” to stay afloat in these strange times.
  • Pulling IR35 was a practical decision by HMRC to divert resources but the delay came too late to properly assist contractors and businesses. Even though there are many unknowns to IR35, advising clients to prepare for the situation as best they can is still important.
  • While ‘cash is king’, it was stressed the importance of forward-planning and focus within accounting, adding that the current environment is “about making sure that your business is still there and trying to still operate”.
  • Big shift around accountancy software as more firms leave their ‘old-fashioned approaches’ behind. Effective technology is beneficial for both clients and firms “It’s not about crunching through a bag of receipts; it’s about making sure that the information is real-time and then looking at it” and seeing where value can be added.
  • Moving the wider industry to cloud-based software is essential, even in an uncertain time like this, accountants should be looking at their technology to see what works, what doesn’t, and what will work in the longer-term.

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, Editor, Accountancy Age
  • Richard Hepburn, Operations Manager, Gorilla Accounting
  • Kath Docherty, Strategic Development Manager, C&M Accountants

View the on-demand discussion here.

Discussion 2

Date: 14th April

This session discussed how the accounting profession is assisting SMEs, and the internal and external responses firms made in the wake of the crisis.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Accountants’ clients are being “bombarded” by government announcements, and are struggling to understand them all
  • The IR35 delay has provided a cash cushion for those who were prepared for the original deadline
  • Where possible, keeping staff on now will benefit in the long term as the situation improves
  • The government needs to provide much more detail on CBILS and CJRS

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, editor, Accountancy Age
  • James Poyser, CEO, inniAccounts
  • Gedalia Waldman, head of Audit, Grunberg & Co

View the on-demand discussion here.

Discussion 1

Date: 27th March
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This session discussed how the accounting profession is tackling a nationwide lockdown and how to best support clients on key challenges such as cash management, counterparty risk, security risks, business recovery; as well as just how helpful both the UK government and regulators are being for firms and their clients.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Government measures to deal with coronavirus are welcome, but there remains many gaps. Similarly, in the US, there are problems for SMEs accessing funding
  • Communication is more important than ever. With working from home in place accountants are finding it crucial that communication lines with clients are open
  • The advisory role has become more important, with accountants offering far wider reaching business advice
  • Tech uptake could be accelerated by coronavirus, as accountants who rely heavily on paper-based processes could struggle

Speakers:

  • Michael McCaw, editor, Accountancy Age
  • Margaret Laidlaw, head of UK entrepreneurial business, Mazars
  • Stuart Hurst, director of cloud accounting, UHY Hacker Young
  • Dan Zitting, chief product & strategy officer, Galvanize

View the on-demand discussion here.