Australia is lagging the rest of the world in terms of late payments described as the “silent killer of modern business” by the Australian government’s Small Business Ombudsman, Kate Carnell late last year. (Australian Financial Review Article)
An international study of 30,000 invoices from 80 countries undertaken by UK-based “Market Invoice” found that Australian businesses were being paid 26.4 days later than the traditional payment period, far later than the next latest country, Mexico with 18.6 days or South Africa with 16.5 days late.
Based on the traditional 30-day payment terms, this means that Australian small businesses are being paid on an average of 56.4 days.
Ms Carnell said that “In Australia more and more small businesses are falling victim to the unscrupulous payment practices of some big businesses – and even government departments – that are quite frankly a drag on productivity”.
Whilst compliance work is still important, it’s no longer the only “game” for accountants/advisors!
The key 2017 challenge for accountants and advisors is “responding to client requirements for accountants/advisors to provide ‘additional commercial services’ “.
Accountants/advisors need to be adding value to clients by providing commercial services which assist the CEO/owner of a small/medium enterprise to operate their business with reliable current information from their key advisor so they can make informed decisions and add value to their businesses.
I’d like to take this opportunity of wishing you, your colleagues and your families a very Happy Christmas and I hope that 2017 will be very prosperous for you and your business.
Over the last six months the team at ESS BIZTOOLS has brought you comments on a wide range of business issues that, we believe, are important for accountants to think about as you plan the services for your clients. As part of that planning, I would urge you to take into consideration feedback from the small/medium enterprise community as to the services that they require. There have been a number of surveys conducted over recent years by CCH, MYOB, Smithink, universities and other organisations that have all indicated that small/medium enterprises want additional commercial services.
What would you learn from 8 hours with a group of company directors? I had that privilege a couple of weeks ago in a programme sponsored by the Entrepreneurs Programme, part of AusIndustry. The brief was to meet for 8 hours with a group of company directors and discuss with them the issues that they were confronting in their businesses and also to give them some briefing on corporate governance issues.
I learnt plenty in getting feedback from the directors and thought today I’d share what they said with you.
The directors represented companies that had turnovers from $750,000 through to $29M with an average of around $4M amongst the various companies.
The feedback that I received that I thought you might be interested in included the following:
What services are you going to provide in 2017 which create a WOW factor?
Last week we talked about Chief Financial Officer services, Debtors’ Management, Personal Property Securities Register Due Diligence (a major risk management area) and Succession Planning.
Today I want to move further into other services that accountants and business advisers can perform to help your clients overcome the commercial problems that they are confronting.
The first one I want to start with is raising finance; this can take many forms of course, e.g. loans, share capital, early stage innovation company.
For loans from banks or other financial institutions, your clients are going to require budgets and cashflow forecasts and, in many cases, business plans.
Don’t forget that Section 708 of the Corporations Code is still available to raise capital for private companies and now we have the special category – Early Stage Innovation Companies for companies which have developed new products, processes, services, organisational or marketing methodologies or other types of new services, which are able to raise capital and there are real benefits for the investors because the investors can receive a 20% tax offset based on their investment and a capital gains tax exemption, which can last from the end of the first twelve months of the investment to the end of the ninth year of the investment.
As we get near the end of another calendar year it’s an appropriate time for accountants to be asking yourselves what services will your clients want in 2017?
There has been a lot of debate over the last few months about tax returns and how much reliance clients are placing on accountants to prepare tax returns, but I think we need to think of the bigger picture; what do your clients want?
The growth in the consultancy and coaching industries around Australia have indicated that many of your clients want additional services. Indeed the surveys that have been conducted over the last 15 years by MYOB, CCH, Smithink and some universities have all indicated that SMEs are looking for a wider range of commercial services. Some of which, in fact the majority of which, accountants could provide, if you offer a broader range of services. I suggest to you that that is the challenge for 2017; because your clients are not going to wait forever for accountants to respond to their requests for a wider range of services to be made available.
Accountants, small/medium enterprises need your assistance with risk management.
In big business, public companies the CEO traditionally turns to their Chief Financial Officer or company secretary for advice on risk areas within the business.
One of the biggest risk areas is Debtors. Debtors are a major risk for small/medium enterprises. Australia is lagging behind the World in terms of late payments, according to a recent report from the Small Business Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman called debtors management problems for SMEs the “silent killer of modern business”.
Risk management is an accepted subject for accountants to enquire about with your clients relative to covers, policies that have been enacted etc. This can cover items such as:
and at least another half a dozen risks that affects businesses.
Most accountants do make enquiries of their clients about the strategies that have been implemented to protect the business from problems in these risks.
Accountants, you are needed in the ESIC process. The Early Stage Innovation Company amendments to the Income Tax Act have instigated the first lot of publicity about a company which was actually going through the verification process.
The company, a Perth company called Epic Delivery, had difficulty in satisfying the Australian Taxation Office that it qualified under the Principles Based Test. In an article written in the Financial Review last week, the company’s co-founder was quoted as saying that the company had been unable to accumulate the required 100 points under the Gateway Test, and then had to rely on the Principles Based Test. The company had difficulty in satisfying the Australian Taxation Office initially that they had “sufficient competitive advantage”. According to the company’s co-founder, they then had about 10 separate communications with the Australian Taxation Office so they could satisfy the ATO that they did have a “sufficient competitive advantage” for their business.
Accountants, do you really know your clients? At the ATSA Conference in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, a number of the presenters referred to the concept of “trusted adviser”. Are you the “trusted adviser” to your clients? It’s an interesting question and I intend to explore that further next week.
For today, lets concentrate on do you really know your clients? Surely part of the concept of being the “trusted adviser” is knowing your clients.
What does that mean? I’ve conducted quite a number of sessions with clients of accountancy businesses over the years and when I sit and talk to the small/medium enterprises that comprise a good average cross-section of the clients of accountancy businesses, I have found that one of the most common statements I get from these people, near the end of the process, is “I want my accountant to know more about my business than just the Profit & Loss Account”.