Accountants have been applauded for their “frontline role” as they continue to support their small-business clients during the COVID-19 economic downturn.
Speaking on the MyBusiness Live webcast on all things JobKeeper on Monday, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ABSFEO), Kate Carnell; Deputy Commissioner from the ATO, Deborah Jenkins; and Reckon CEO Sam Allert thanked accountants and bookkeepers for their essential role in buffering the impact of the ongoing crisis.
Thanking them on their “amazing job”, Mr Allert said the pressure on accountants, tax agents and bookkeepers is unprecedented, as they juggle supporting their clients, disseminating information and helping small businesses comply with JobKeeper.
Mr Allert said: “I really want to call out to all the tax agents, accountants and bookkeepers out there.
“They are our frontline with JobKeeper payments. The government moved quickly, the ATO moved quickly and put it in place, but it’s accountants and bookkeepers who are small businesses themselves who have to learn that legislation and then they’re just getting inundated.”
Joining Mr Allert’s praises, Ms Carnell underlined that “it’s absolutely essential that small businesses get good advice”, especially when contemplating cash-flow matters.
“So, their bookkeeper, their accountant, their broker, whoever they get business advice from normally, is a fundamentally important person right now,” she said.
The small business ombudsman acknowledged that many accountants and advisers are “under the pump at the moment because they’ve got so many of their clients asking for advice”.
“I’d like to just say, right now, thank you to the accountants, the bookkeepers and others who are really, really stepping up here as well.”
Ms Carnell also stressed the crucial role accountants play in helping businesses plan for the future, as they start to look ahead to the other side of the bridge.
“A whole range of things are happening at the moment. The ATO has deferred payments for small businesses that have been affected, so they might owe the ATO… You’ll have rent deferral payments, you’ll potentially start to pay your SME guarantee loan,” Ms Carnell said.
“So, the important thing right now is to be talking to your poor, overstressed accountant. Sitting down and looking at what a cash flow looks like going forward.”
Accountants under pressure
A recent survey, commissioned by MyBusiness and carried out by Momentum Intelligence, revealed that despite remaining in the black through March and April, accountants face a different sort of burden: mounting client expectations.
Accountants admitted to Momentum Intelligence that the enormity of the job is having increasing demands on their mental health.
One accountant said: “Accountants are definitely the frontline for small-business government stimulus. No consideration is being placed on this fact.”
Another said: “I am on a rollercoaster. Up and down. Very sad times for hard-working business owners who are set to lose everything…”
Written by: Maja Garaca Djurdjevic – mybusiness