FreeAgent Roundtable: 5 key takeaways for supporting your small business clients

Important: This event took place before the government announced that MTD for ITSA will be delayed until 2026. Some of the information below is no longer accurate.

At our recent FreeAgent Roundtable event in London, an expert panel weighed in on the top issues affecting small businesses and accountants and discussed what can be done to create a more resilient environment. 

With our latest Accountant and Bookkeeper Monitor survey finding that 64% of business owners are worried they can only survive the next 12 months, FreeAgent’s CEO Roan Lavery opened the discussion with an overview of the ‘permacrisis’:

Read on for five key takeaways from the event and discover how our panel think accountants and bookkeepers can support worried clients. 

1. Accountants are becoming advisors

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, shared that businesses are looking for support on how to navigate the next 12 to 18 months and that accountants are stepping into the world of support provision, running small business training programmes. She explained small business owners are now looking to their accountants as trusted advisors:

2. Access to finance is more difficult

Paul Surtees, CEO and co-founder of Capitalise, explained that inflation will have an impact on how businesses are funded. Higher interest costs are affecting disposable income, which will have an onward impact on the affordability of businesses when they come to the market to look for borrowing. Lending is available, but small businesses would benefit from advice from an accountant:

3. MTD is still an unknown for many

With Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) fast approaching, accountants and bookkeepers are getting both their practices and clients ready ahead of the April 2024 deadline. Yogesh Dhanak, Senior Technical Advisory Manager at ACCA, shared that the majority of the ACCA membership are on board with the legislation, but warned that newly formed businesses will be jumping into something unprecedented: 

4. Late payments remain a problem

One of the toughest things about running a small business is dealing with late payments, which can be both stressful and disruptive for cashflow. Julia Kermode, founder of IWORK, shared the need for big businesses to allow for greater flexibility in how they make their payments: 

You can help your clients with FreeAgent’s handy features to boost their chances of getting paid on time, including automated email reminders. Roan Lavery also highlighted the need for more awareness of the Prompt Payment Code, a voluntary code that sets the standard for payment practices between organisations of any size and their suppliers. 

5. Take advantage of digital tools 

Accountants and bookkeepers are automating their admin to spend more time advising their clients and growing their practices. Mark Boulter, Managing Director of THP Accountants, shared his thoughts on the evolving technology trends in the industry, and how each practice needs a unique set of digital tools for their own specific needs:

Want to hear more about the future of accountancy? Sign up for our CPD-accredited December webinar, where Tony Stevenson, Senior Digital Enablement Manager at FreeAgent, will be joined by another expert panel to look ahead to 2023.