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How accountants have offered cashflow support to their clients during COVID-19

Fluidly is an Intelligent Cashflow platform that helps business owners sleep better at night, by providing confidence in their financial future. Its tools make planning effortless and allow businesses to get cash in the bank when it’s needed.

Fluidly is used by hundreds of accounting firms, including 11 of the top 25 accounting firms in the UK. In the light of coronavirus, you can use Fluidly to look at the impact of a drop in revenue or costs.

Over the last few weeks, small businesses in the UK have been plunged into incredibly difficult circumstances. Many business owners have seen revenue drop to zero almost overnight and the long term outlook is extremely uncertain.

Getting sight of future cashflow, and being able to plan for rapidly changing scenarios is a top priority for businesses to effectively manage their cash through the pandemic. We’ve seen accountants provide crucial support by going above and beyond to get clients’ up to date forecasts and support them with getting money into the business through CBILS or BBLS.

We’ve also seen an extra reliance on technology. Businesses have gone remote overnight and accountants have quickly overhauled the way they interact with their clients to function in the ‘new normal’. Meetings and processes that can no longer be conducted in person are now occurring digitally.

Fluidly has made some big adjustments to help accountants provide an effective cashflow service. We’ve added new functionality to our scenario planning tool to model accurately the impact of furloughing a member of staff or taking out a government backed loan. We’ve increased the frequency of the cashflow sync time so that new changes are reflected more quickly in Fluidly. And we’ve developed relationships with more lenders to get funding for businesses that need it.

We caught up with John Oddy, owner of Ascentis to talk to him about how he’s supported his clients with cashflow services during lockdown and what his future cashflow support might look like.

Hi John, tell us a bit about you and your practice

Ascentis is a team of 15 across 2 offices based in Yorkshire. We’ve been 100% Xero since it came along and we use a standard Xero app stack. Technology is a massive part of delivering on our purpose… we believe there’s a better way, a more successful and enjoyable way to run a business.

It’s our purpose to help our clients find that better way, and achieve their personal vision of success.

Tell us about your cashflow services and what you’ve adapted for COVID-19?

Our insights apps are a combination of a “rear view mirror” for past performance, and “the road ahead” for cash flow management. With a number of other tools this creates “financial mastery” for our clients over their businesses. Fluidly is critical to that future view.

Fluidly is a really simple way to offer scalable cashflow support, and we were in the process of rolling Fluidly out to our whole base when the pandemic hit.

Around the 18th March we abandoned that steady roll out process and connected the rest of our clients to Fluidly in 24 hours. We also made contact with the financial director in each business, showing them how to set up a forecast.

We were able to get our clients looking at 3 month forecasts within days of rolling Fluidly out fully.

Do you see more of your clients being more engaged in the technology that manages their finances as a result of the pandemic?

It’s hard to imagine how we would have helped clients throughout the pandemic without two things.

  1. All clients being on one cloud accounting software – Xero

2. Having a simple forecasting tool like Fluidly

Although it’s been an incredible tragedy and so disruptive for businesses, COVID-19 shined a light on the value of cash flow forecasting, a value we’d struggled in conveying to a number of clients up to that point. The feedback ever since has been brilliant.

Businesses do talk to each other about the accounting service they’re getting, so it’s important to have these effective services in place in your practice. We’ve strengthened the relationships we have with our clients, and gained new business as a result.

What do you think are key things that accountants should focus on to make sure their services are relevant going into an uncertain future?

  1. Lean into technology. Now that banks aren’t asking for such complicated applications for funding, we’ve used the Fluidly Excel download – we can get CBILS applications out of the door in an hour which wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
  2. Connect with your clients. It doesn’t have to be polished or professional. I sent out plenty of videos that were just me in my home office, but the quality of the information is more important than production value.
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