I've written a number of pieces over the last couple of months about the way in which the accountancy industry is being changed and shaped by the digital age.
Tech advances are giving professional services firms, including accountants, the opportunity to move from a cost centre to a value driver for the businesses they serve.
Rather than focus on financial administration, practices for SMEs are increasingly offering a far broader and more consultative set of financial management products and services.
With the SME economy an ever buoyant part of Britain's business fabric, advice for startups is widespread.
However, financial support for the businesses that find themselves in between - neither startup nor corporate - is regularly neglected. Growth stage businesses can present the most challenging clients for accountants. But these businesses are often open to a high level of engagement with their accountant.
Business funding marketplaces, such as ours, are giving accountants the power to take their counsel to the next level for these high growth clients.
But how can you identify the optimum time to suggest a financial injection?
1. GOING GLOBAL
Sooner or later, a SME is likely to look longingly beyond the UK borders. Indeed, recent research from Kingston Smith demonstrated that 60 percent of the SMEs they surveyed export to both the EU and the Rest of the World.
While exporting brings growth potential and increased revenue, it also often heralds significant expense. Expanding into global markets can be a daunting proposition for a small business client.
Louis Taylor, CEO of UK Export Finance, has that "no viable export should fail for want of the right finance or insurance." Indeed, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), UKEF and the ICAEW are already working together to help accountants better understand and assist their exporting clients.
Capitalise - as an 'Exporting is Great' partner - is also working closely with accountants, to help them advise SME clients on export finance options.
2. SELLING LIKE HOT CAKES
Landing a major contract can feel like the 'big break' a SME has been waiting for. Unfortunately, without appropriate financial planning, it can turn into the straw that breaks the camel's back.
More stock and raw materials, new machinery, new staff, or all of the above - understanding the financial implications of this kind of major business decision will help you offer a far more valuable service to your SME clients.
3. 'TIS THE SEASON
A lot of small business are beholden to seasonality in their sales cycle, purely by virtue of being part of a specific industry. This can present a financial challenge not only during the off-season, when times are tight, but in ensuring the flexibility necessary to react quickly to seasonal change.
Do you know which of your clients is impacted by seasonality? Suggesting a bespoke financing option to ride the peaks and troughs of the financial year could be the difference between a SME client remaining on your books, or falling victim to the tides of change.
As an accountant to a SME, you can often feel like an extension of a small business team, even playing the role of a Financial Director in some cases. In these instances, it is imperative to know that business' industry inside out in order to give the best counsel.
It is important to seize the moment when it comes to addressing SMEs' financial needs. With so many finance options on offer, from banks, independents and alternative lenders, in the past you could be forgiven for simply recommending the comfortable, mainstream option. Now, however, online lending marketplaces are giving you the potential to provide high level financial counsel on bespoke funding solutions for your business clients.
It’s time to embrace this new digital funding era. It’s time to show them the money.