54% of accountants have said that cashflow forecasting has become the number one priority for their SME clients due to the impact of COVID-19, ahead of business planning, credit control and bookkeeping.
In a ‘Future of Cashflow’ survey commissioned by Fluidly, more than 200 accountancy firms with tens of thousands of SMEs on their books shared their insights. Prior to COVID-19, cashflow management advice was regarded as a specialist offering by many firms, but small businesses are now requesting it as a core part of the service offered by accountants.
Over half (55%) of accountants who participated in the Digital Accountancy Show survey plan to permanently change the way they offer cashflow services in response to COVID-19, and 80% believe the impact of COVID-19 will continue to affect their service offering for at least the next 6 months.
54% of firms felt their cashflow forecasting services have been most heavily affected since lockdown began, followed by business planning (16.5%), practice management (14.4%), and bookkeeping (8%). Credit control (4.3%) and tax and compliance (3.2%) were least affected. Unsurprisingly, 9 out of 10 accountants said that cashflow services are more important now than before COVID-19.
Caroline Plumb OBE, Founder and CEO of Fluidly, commented: “Since COVID-19 we have seen accountants are now embedding cashflow forecasting and management as part of their onboarding offering. This is being deployed on a monthly basis. We’ve certainly seen this trend among existing clients, with an increase in businesses using Fluidly’s Goal Planner tool to plan for surviving a shortfall.
One respondent, an associate partner from a Top 60 firm of accountants, noted: “Cashflow was something we did on an ad hoc basis for clients, but was not a mainstay. However, when the pandemic hit, we understood that cashflow forecasting was needed. The pandemic has certainly seen a change in the role accountants play, with a shift towards more of an advisory role alongside the more traditional offerings.”
Dan Cockerton, Founder of the Digital Accountancy Show, added: “The next few months are going to be tough. It's really important for clients to see the cash that is going in and what is going out. Especially with CBILS loans, small businesses need to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to cashflow management.”
One of the respondents to the survey said: “Cashflow was something we’d had on our list of services to offer, and the pandemic has accelerated this process as it became the number one priority for all my clients. For me - a quick easy win was making Fluidly available to every client. That was my rapid response.”
Fluidly’s app, which is free to search and integrates with cloud accounting packages, including Xero and Intuit QuickBooks, is designed to help small businesses avoid a cashflow crunch and accurately forecast their financial future.