Our accountancy firm works mainly with SMEs that don’t have an in-house accountant. We act like a CFO for them, problem solving and assisting in the development and implementation of their strategies.

This can include preparing periodic management accounts or reviewing in-house periodic management accounts with the directors. The discussion around the figures forms only one part (and quite often the smallest part) of the discussion of a period ended and planning for the periods ahead.

I really enjoy working closely with our clients and developing the role of a trusted adviser with them. A lot of my interactions with the business are not purely on numbers but can cover operational and strategic issues.

People really appreciate assistance when they are most in need

In some cases, that can involve a large number of interactions in any given month, described by one client as a partner-type relationship. This can be particularly valuable for a sole owner without a high-level management team supporting them.

Family businesses also form a large part of my client base. Over the past 30 years, I have gained valuable experience in dealing with the particular challenges that can arise within them. I try to bring that experience to assist in addressing issues that may develop.

Looking to 2022, our goal as a firm would be to develop skills in the area of mediation. Many business issues could be resolved with intervention of this kind.  We will also continue to offer support on an ongoing basis to those businesses that require it, as well as continue to excel in the more traditional accounting services.

I would say the outlook among our clients is currently cautiously positive. Each sector has its own particular opportunities and challenges, but the changing nature of the pandemic coupled with the ongoing effects of Brexit does cause concern for a number of businesses.

Despite this, and the further challenges of supply chain issues and price inflation, most are in a good position to move forward. Government support has been key to this reasonably strong position. There are exceptions, of course, and some sub-sectors within hospitality are in a more vulnerable position.

Revenue has also been supportive of business throughout the pandemic. I would hope that this will continue, specifically when it comes to agreeing repayments of the debts that have been warehoused. That should also apply to those who will require phased payment arrangements but who may not have qualified for debt warehousing.

The pandemic forced a rethink for a lot of people on their priorities in life and how they live. As a society, I would like to see us continue to develop the sense of community that evolved during the various lockdowns. I do some volunteering and find it very rewarding.

The most important business lesson I have learned in my career is that people really appreciate assistance when they are most in need. That builds an enormous amount of loyalty and a deep relationship.