Lombard Accountants has been providing families, individuals and their businesses with accountancy and taxation services for more than 40 years. The practice is built on long-term partnerships and independent customer referrals. We believe our success is based on our ability to service the distinctly different needs of families, individuals and their businesses.

I am responsible for delivery of the firm’s business advisory and audit services. Prior to joining Lombard Accountants, I held senior practice and industry-based roles, including as corporate finance director and chief financial officer, which has provided me with a wide and varied experience to draw on to advise clients. My role involves all aspects of business planning, with particular emphasis on company valuations, due diligence on acquisitions and disposals, financing, litigation support and corporate restructuring.

As for many businesses, the biggest impact of the pandemic for us has been the dramatic and sudden change in the work environment. We have had to adapt to working from home and the restriction of face-to-face meetings both internally and with our clients. From a client perspective, there has been something of a bifurcation of needs depending on the nature of their industry. Certain clients have continued to trade at relatively normal levels, in the context of being able to apply appropriate changes to work practices and continuing to operate. For others, our focus has been very much on assisting them in securing various government supports, with financial planning and financing arrangements to help support the future viability of the business.

To become a trusted adviser, you need to take a holistic approach based on an understanding of the client’s overall financial position

Government financial support has been critical to many SME businesses over recent months. These measures will need to be extended for several months to help affected business survive and emerge intact when the restrictions are lifted. We have recently assisted several clients in developing business plans that make use of SBCI-backed funding. This will help position for them for renewed growth and development as we emerge from the impact of the pandemic.

Private savings have grown substantially during the pandemic, and the government must examine ways to encourage consumer spending to help drive the recovery across the economy. I would be hopeful that public confidence will be restored quickly once the vaccine rollout gathers momentum, and incentives such as a simplified ‘stay and spend’ scheme to encourage staycations through the autumn could capitalise on this.

The most important business lesson I have learned in my career is the need to develop and maintain effective relationships with clients. This should be based on clear and open communication and understanding their wider business goals. I believe that to properly advise clients you must understand more than just the specific business. To become a trusted adviser, you need to take a holistic approach based on an understanding of their overall financial position. The value of this has been reinforced over the past 12 months.