What service offerings do clients need in a post-COVID world?

There’s little doubt that, as the coronavirus disruption of 2020 continues, many accountants have been walking alongside their clients for every step of the journey.

Suddenly, accountants have found themselves superheroes of the economy because the help from governments and other bodies has been primarily financial in nature. They’ve both provided and explained the data needed to get the help, and helped complete the forms.

A positive disruption

We’re talking about making the most of opportunities to help businesses to capitalize on the new normal, following the events of 2020. The good news is that this year’s Practice of Now survey and report identified an accounting industry more than ready for this challenge. Although the survey was completed just before the coronavirus disruption occurred, the picture it paints—from the results of speaking to more than 3,000 accountants worldwide—is positive.

The key theme is that the accounting profession is on the brink of positive disruption. The survey shows not only do clients increasingly expect business and strategy advice that is far beyond the usual core remit of accounting and bookkeeping services, but that accountants are responding to the need for a diversified service menu.

Here are some key findings from the report:

Flexibility: 87% of respondents agree that clients expect more flexibility and better service levels from accountants, without an increase in their rates. Compliance: 79% of respondents agree that regulations from government, industry, and international bodies are forcing changes to working practices. Wider service offering: 82% of respondents in our survey agree clients are demanding a wider service offering, regardless of any technological or societal factors. Digitization: 54% of respondents say they provide clients with a faster service thanks to technology, while 43% say they believe it means their client service and satisfaction has improved.

It’s logical to suggest that the prominent trend of customers’ needs and expectations driving innovation will, arguably, only be accelerated by coronavirus.

We know that accountants are best placed to address these new, urgent needs, an assumption based on the fact that accountants were already pivoting from traditional service models at the beginning of 2020, and utilizing new technologies prior to coronavirus.

Creating service offerings for the new normal

There are consistent themes around which accounting professionals can focus their attention to create new service offerings, or simply to be of use to their clients during this difficult time and beyond. Some involve core competencies, while others are outside traditional comfort zones. But all must be considered moving forward if a practice is to thrive.

Offer clarity around government support

It’s vital to help your clients understand what support is available to them. After all, their continued success enables your own success—and it might even be suggested that, following the events of 2020, helping clients succeed has become an existential question for accountants.

Local, state, and federal government programs offer financial support, whether grants or loans, or deferred payment dates for taxes.

For accounting professionals moving forward, it is vital to be fully aware of these programs and to connect clients to them. This can obviously be challenging because many of them evolve rapidly. But, more than the above requirement, accounting professionals need to understand the complete requirements and details of these programs and be able to share them with their

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