Accountants are now 'key workers', say UK firms

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New research has highlighted the importance of accountants during the coronavirus crisis, with many SMEs now viewing them as the key workers of economic recovery.

A study from Xero has revealed that nearly half (43%) of small business owners think that their accountant played a vital part in the survival of their venture during the pandemic. Crucially, 37% reckoned that their financial advisor was a key player in helping them retain staff during the worst part of the national lockdown.

Even more impressively, 63% respondents to the Xero survey said that their accountant has delivered an undisrupted service, even during the worst periods of the lockdown when business had pretty much ground to a halt.

However, during the research SMEs were also quick to underline just how much technology had played a part in keeping the wheels of business turning during the coronavirus crisis. Nearly half (48%) of those questioned said that cloud technology has been a huge help in allowing them to work remotely and in tandem with their accountant.

Accounting software

While accountants and cloud-based software were core aspects of small business survival plans, 34% of those questioned stated that they’d used government websites and their associated resources when Covid-19 first struck. Somewhat surprisingly only 15% said they’d asked for help from family or friends.

The research by Xero proves to be welcome news for accountants, with 45% stating that their financial advisor is more important now than ever before. A further 14% reported that they’d been in touch with an accountant for the first time. Meanwhile, 38% of those surveyed claimed they now enjoy a closer relationship with their accountant than they had prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Based on the research data, key areas of accountancy support for SMEs have been VAT (37%) and payroll (30%). Some 70% said they felt most reassured in the area of tax returns.

The growing range of cloud-based software that has become available in recent years has made a vast difference to the small business accounting landscape.

Gary Turner, managing director of Xero said: “Behind every resilient small business there’s a hard-working accountant. They have played such a huge role in saving, and often transforming, small firms adapting to the pandemic. Accountants and bookkeepers are the unsung heroes of our recovery and their importance has never been greater to individual businesses and the British economy.”

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.