Communicate, Communicate, Communicate - Andrew Geddes

Accountant's Minute 230

Greetings – we hope that you were able to take advantage of some of the rules relaxation that applied over the last few days.

Last Friday we conducted the third COVID-19 Survival Panel webinar for accountants, business advisors and bookkeepers with keynote speakers Andrew Geddes, a well-known accountancy industry coach and mentor and former chair of Greencross Ltd and Priscilla Bea Smith, Partner of Cloud Nine Associates Pty Ltd.

Andrew Geddes opened his presentation with the statement "We’ve got to communicate, communicate, communicate with our team to keep them informed as to what is happening, both within the firm and with clients and the consequences of the various government programs".

“Accountants need to be far more sensitive with our clients and improve the customer experience from emailing or telephoning or in the organisation of the Zoom conference call – it’s important to let our clients know what we are doing for them and giving them written proposals including fee quotations”.  “It’s a time when our clients are under great pressure so we need to be better at what we do and be aware that it's a time to build on the relationship and to show our clients that we are professional and we do care about them”.

“If the firm is 'less busy' than normal let’s try and simplify our processes and share those learnings with the entire team and begin to develop new advisory capabilities that will ultimately benefit clients and the firm”.  Andrew Geddes indicated that some accountants are starting to have weekly client advisory sessions where each team member reports on the discussions they have had with clients that week – what we did for them and the total team were then asked to analyse that submission to see whether there were lessons for other clients that could then be shared with them.

“It’s important to ensure that contact is made with all clients to check with them on their current position and to assist them, if necessary, in the preparation of application forms for government assistance and a dot point Business Plan, Budgets and Cashflow Forecast to support the application for a 'Coronavirus SME Guarantee Loan' of up to $250,000 for working capital purposes repayable over 3 years at a low interest rate with no security required.”

Other matters that Andrew Geddes commented on, as being important activities for accountants to be pursuing at this stage included:

  • Reminding clients of the benefits of cashflow control and the desirability of preparing weekly estimates of sales and cash inflow and monitoring the actual results achieved.
  • Undertaking financial modelling estimates to test the assumptions, particularly if sales reduced by 10%, 20% or 30%.
  • Does the financial modelling estimate indicate that the business should be applying for a Coronavirus SME Guarantee Loan?
  • Could the business utilise a Coronavirus SME Guarantee Loan to generate working capital activity whether it is purchasing of cattle and fattening those cattle for sale or a builder utilising the loan funds to build a spec home, thus keeping his team employed or perhaps renovations to the business’ premises to improve the customer experience.
  • Clients could be encouraged to establish senior leadership teams and to ensure that the senior leadership team meets for a short period each day, but at the end of the week conducts a longer review meeting to consider all aspects of the business.

Priscilla Bea Smith, operator of Cloud Nine Associates Pty Ltd spoke about the training programs that she conducts for bookkeepers and younger accountants wanting to learn more about the taxation system and the work requirements for tax agents.  Priscilla gave an overview of the updated processes for the JobKeeper Program – initial registration deadline now 31st May 2020 and payments for wages can be made up to 8th May 2020.

The desirability of businesses utilising the Single Touch Payroll System was highlighted, particularly in regard to accessing the “Boosting Cashflow for Employees Grants”.  Priscilla also referred to the monthly report that needs to be submitted to the Australian Taxation Office relative to the number of employees working in the business.

The government has extended the JobKeeper Program to include sole traders, a director of a company, a beneficiary of a trust and a partner in a partnership.  The rules are that the business must be eligible for the JobKeeper Program because of a turnover reduction and the recipient cannot be receiving a salary from the business nor can the recipient be identified as a JobKeeper recipient for any other business.

The rules relating to businesses with turnovers under $50 million per annum utilising the Commercial Tenancy Code to be able to negotiate with landlords was discussed.  The ability to utilise the code is only available to businesses which have qualified under the JobKeeper rules whether the business elects to register for the payment of $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee or not.

You can link to the COVID-19 Survival Panel webinar recording number three featuring the presentations made by Priscilla Bea Smith and Andrew Geddes by clicking here.

The next COVID-19 Survival Panel webinar for accountants features Darwin-based businessman and business promoter Geoff Goodrich, who will discuss services that accountants could provide to assist SMEs during these difficult times.

The other keynote speaker is Adelaide/Melbourne legal practitioner Matthew Karakoulakis of AMK Law who will comment on legal issues that are confronting business operators relating to COVID-19 and in particular "Business Contracts and Force Majeure".

You can register for this complimentary webinar to be presented on Friday, 8th May 2020 at 12-noon AEST by clicking here.

Want to know more?  Why not visit the ESS BIZTOOLS' website - Survival in Difficult Times - Learn More where you will be able to view a full summary of the Survival in Difficult Times Product Package, including the specific material that we have produced relative to COVID-19 coronavirus.

If you have any questions on any aspects of the assistance that ESS BIZTOOLS' products can provide for you to use to assist your clients to navigate through the 'COVID-19 survival challenges', please don't hesitate to contact us:

We have prepared a more detailed summary of the key issues relative to the presentations by Andrew Geddes and Priscilla Bea Smith in the “Want to Know More” (which is the articles incorporated in the May edition of “Business Plus”).  Please click on the image below.

Stay safe! If you have a friend or colleague who you think might find this article interesting please feel free to pass it on to them.

Have a great day!

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