Although this crisis has dealt small businesses a heavy blow, it has also helped them better understand how money moves in and out of their business. As a result, cashflow support has never been a more viable service line.
“Clients have finally seen the light,” as one of our partners told us. But you’ve been there right alongside clients in any case – working through the night and weekends, saving them from the brink of collapse by planning, restructuring and sourcing the funding they desperately need.
So why stop there? The pandemic has shown how cashflow support means far more than forecasting – it’s about taking action around every aspect of your clients’ finances, from getting invoices paid to securing the vital Bounce Back loan in their account.
If you see cashflow as anything less than a 360 degree service, your practice is missing a trick.
Funding services: Where your firm can make real impact
Right now, 39% of businesses say they only have three months or less worth of cash in reserve (British Chambers of Commerce). So one of the most impactful ways you can help clients with cashflow is through support around funding.
Funding services fit naturally with the advice you already provide, which revolves around helping clients achieve their business goals. But the hard truth is if you don’t step in to help your clients find a loan, they’ll find someone else who can – and probably miss out on a good deal in the process.
Accountants are uniquely placed to find the right loan for their clients. In fact, they’re SMEs’ most trusted source of advice – ahead of friends, family and other business owners (British Business Bank). Yet the majority of small businesses still turn to their bank for funding advice.
You know your clients’ businesses better than any bank manager ever could, so you can find the best solution for them, whether it’s faster cash via an alternative lender or a specific facility like asset finance that actually fulfills their objectives.
What’s stopping your firm from expanding its cashflow services?
So, why isn’t every accounting practice either moving into cashflow services, or expanding its existing offering to offer funding support?
First, there’s the matter of getting your practice authorised by the FCA. Then there’s the large up-front setup costs and the difficulties of building a service that scales, which can be a problem if your team isn’t singing from the same hymn sheet. Juniors can be less equipped to deliver advice too, meaning your advisory team might only consist of a few specialists.
What’s more, firms often find themselves spread across various pieces of software – with one tool for invoice chasing, one for forecasting and something totally different for funding. Add to that the resources needed to actually market your offering, and launching a new service can feel like an uphill battle.
Working with a technology partner to bolster your new service line
But the right technology can still help, as long as it’s deployed correctly. Accounting software has proven to be an enormously powerful tool for accountants, making it easier for practices to support clients in a clear, consistent and scaleable way. Coronavirus has only reinforced the importance of tools like Xero, QuickBooks and their add-ons.
Take CBILS and Bounce Back applications, which would have been far more labour intensive to prepare only a few years ago. Thanks to the live data in your accounting software and forecasting tools like Fluidly, preparing supporting material for a loan application can take minutes, and be as simple as exporting a readymade forecast.
To really make the most of tech, it needs to be embedded in a practical, coherent way – that empowers your team across the board, rather than different tools patched together to solve various distinct problems.
How Fluidly can help – our new funding service
That’s why we’ve launched a new, fully compliant funding service, alongside a whole range of lenders including iwoca, Funding Circle, MarketFinance, Natwest, Capital on Tap and more. Our tools are designed to make every aspect of cashflow services easier, through an entirely new category we call Intelligent Cashflow.
Ultimately, debtor management, planning and funding services all solve the same big, overarching problem of cashflow. And your firm needs a one-stop shop that tackles every single one of cashflow’s moving parts.
Fortunately, as small businesses begin to appreciate the importance of managing their cash, a lot of the groundwork has already been laid. Not only are your clients now more receptive to support around funding, with Fluidly there’s also the technology to help you deliver this advice in a consistent, scalable way.
How funding with Fluidly works for partners
Instead of jumping between various different tools, Fluidly gives you everything you need to know about your clients’ cash situation in one place – whether it’s building a forecast, chasing an invoice or applying for a loan.
By providing a single app for every cashflow conversation, we make it easier to train your team and keep things consistent. This empowers your entire practice to offer advice, rather than a select few.
Our tools and resources take the hassle out of funding. We can help identify which of your clients are in need of finance and are eligible for which products, all from their accounting data. We work with you or your clients directly to make the application, search the market and get the funding your clients need.
We know it can be hard to roll out a new service, so we help with that too, by providing every new Fluidly member with the support of a dedicated broking specialist so you can hit the ground running.
Fluidly is more than a piece of technology, it’s a membership – to help you sell and market every type of cashflow service at a time when your clients need it most.