Tom, you qualified as an accountant a year ago. It’s probably pretty safe to say it’s been quite a year. Not many accountants face a global pandemic in their first year of practice! What’s been your biggest take away from working through this crisis?
Yeah, it’s been quite the year. It feels like an eternity ago that I took that final exam and the dreaded 6-week wait to find out whether I’d be putting ACCA after my name or spending the next 2 months in my study bunker for a re-take. Luckily I was able to dismantle the bunker and turn it back into the spare room….. Until the pandemic hit that is, now it’s my full-time office much to the dismay of my partner.
In terms of my biggest take away – I think there are a couple of things worth noting here, one being the relationships we build with our clients really help us in a time like this. They know who we are and what we do. More than anything though, they trust us to be doing everything possible to protect their interests and also maintain their compliance at a time where one could be forgiven for pushing that to the back of their mind.
Secondly, I think I’ve realised how much I enjoy being surrounded by people and being involved in a busy office.
A few months ago I’d probably have proudly referred to myself as the office grump, now ironically, its the daily office comradery and banter and I miss most!
The team at England and Company has never been busier, as you all pulled together to assist your clients through the ramifications and implications of lockdown. What’s impressed you most about the resilience of your team members and clients during this time?
I think it just felt like we had no choice but to crack on, when we first went into lockdown I remember talking to a colleague and we just knew that financially and operationally our clients were going to be in free-fall mode come 9am the next day and we just needed to be there to support them. I have to say as much as I thought I was going to be having some really tough conversations with clients and colleagues, I wasn’t prepared for the impact on everybody’s life’s this pandemic would have. Most times when speaking to a client, it just felt like they needed someone they trusted to discuss everything with, not just which loan they should take or how furlough was going to work for them.
You are a huge advocate of bringing more technology into accountancy. Do you think the advantages of moving everything more digital will now be more broadly recognised?
Without a shadow of a doubt, what we have done over the last 3 months, simply wouldn’t have been possible without technology. I feel like my persistent and drive over the past 2-3 years, to assist the Directors in bringing technology into England and Company probably paid off on day one of everyone working from home!
We need to keep it up and continue using technology in a way that helps us and helps our clients operate efficiently and cohesively.
On top of the tech we put in place internally, the inroads we’ve made into getting clients and staff members using tech to its fullest potential can’t be overlooked when thinking about lockdown and how effectively we’ve navigated such a tough time for business in general. Having clients being able to give us books and records without physically needing to leave their house has meant that they have been able to meet their compliance demands, whether that is VAT, PAYE or submission of accounts whilst staying safe.
If companies are looking to move their systems into the new digital age what advice would give them, where should they start?
Simply put – Get in touch.
There really is no substitute for expertise, and when it comes to implementing accounting technology I think we’re right up there with some of the biggest firms in Dorset. We’ve had great success with getting clients out of the era of pen and paper, no matter how resistant they were at the start of their journey. I think something my Dad instilled in me is ‘do a job once and do it well’ which usually that means spending a few quid but there’s another famous adage ‘you get what you pay for’ and when I look across the accounting landscape that’s as true here as anywhere else.
How do you see the role of an accountant changing over the next few years?
In my opinion, there are going to be two types of accountants emerging over the next few years and into the back end of this decade. Those who are capable and willing to converse with clients about their business as a whole and build relationships that can be relied upon during testing times. Its something both myself and the team at England and Company prides ourselves on, adding that commercial advantage to our clients.
The second string of accountants will be those who just act as the middleman between clients and HMRC or Companies House.
I’m certainly firmly rooted in the belief that we always need to be better than we were yesterday and as a result of that, I’ve got an insatiable desire to do what needs to be done. For me that means being relied upon by the partners to do my job and get accounts completed and submitted but also that every single one of my clients trusts me to give them honest and effective advice. Something I hope I am succeeding in even in the fledgeling years of my accountancy career.
Thomas Moon – Chartered Certified Accountant
England & Company
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