Speaking to Accountants Daily, Blackwattle Legal partner Trevor Withane said the best accountants are being proactive in their approach.
“[They are] encouraging their clients to stay on the pulse in looking at cashflow, pipeline and putting in strategies that not only improve the likelihood of a business succeeding but also protect against the consequences of any potential failure,” Mr Withane explained.
“Where directors have an insolvency concern, accountants should advise them to seek safe harbour advice (often best given jointly by an insolvency lawyer and safe harbour advisor), even where there is a refinancing or restructuring plan in the pipeline. D&O insurance policies frequently contain exclusions relating to insolvency.
“Utilising the safe harbour regime during transitional periods can offer the directors protection against insolvent trading where an insurance policy might not otherwise respond.”
Further, Mr Withane said the best accountants are looking out for transaction opportunities for their clients to take advantage of growth potential and cost-saving synergies.
“In our experience accountants tend to be very good at assisting clients in good times. Often, and not in all instances, they are less aware of how best to assist clients facing tough times. Firms who are doing well are unlikely to need assistance that departs greatly from the strategies they were implementing pre-pandemic,” he said.
“We think that at all times, but especially heading into a post-pandemic landscape accountants should be making sure they have the toolkit required to assist businesses in distress.”
Looking ahead, Mr Withane said accountants are in a prime position, with so many Australians turning to them as their trusted advisers as the nation looks beyond the pandemic.
“They’re in the privileged position of being involved close to the coalface of many businesses at once. It may be that they can assist their clients in making introductions and identifying opportunities such as acquisition and exit opportunities,” he said.
“Finally, we often hear about [there] being lots of cheap money available to borrow at the moment. Be engaged with the finance market and think about whether your clients might be able to migrate onto better finance deals.”
Emma Ryan is the deputy head of content at Momentum Media and editor of the company's legal publication, Lawyers Weekly.
Emma has worked for Momentum Media since 2015 and has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest stories in corporate Australia. In addition, she has produced exclusive multimedia and event content related to the company's respective brands and audiences.
A journalist by training, Emma has spent her career connecting with key industry stakeholders across a variety of platforms, including online, podcast and radio. She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).