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Accountants under pressure as COVID-19 measures bite

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
23 April 2020 3 minute readShare

The financial crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has reached every corner of the Australian economy and is expected to spark a further, significant slide in revenue across several industries, according to a new survey from Momentum Intelligence.

The coronavirus crisis has to date generated a drop in revenue for over half of surveyed businesses and is expected, over the next three months, to continue to wreak devastation almost evenly across accounting, aviation, defence, financial services, law, mortgages and real estate, the new survey, commissioned by My Business, has revealed.

With a willingness to fully grasp the impact of the virus on our audience, My Business and Momentum Intelligence have teamed up to create an ongoing survey of a cross section of Australian business owners and employees.

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The COVID-19 Business Confidence Survey will serve as a barometer of how businesses and working Australians across Momentum Media’s professional services titles are adapting to the changed working and social environment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, we’ve received over 6,500 responses and the results have been evenly weighted across each industry.

 

Across all industries surveyed, over half of businesses said they’ve already seen a decrease in revenue to date, while a staggering 66 per cent said they expect the coronavirus to have further financial consequences over the next three months.   

Those that have already taken a hit said they mainly expect the trend to continue, with 88 per cent predicting the slide will endure over the next three months.

Interestingly, asked how they plan to offset the loss in revenue, less than half (46 per cent) of those that have sustained a drop said they have already reduced employee hours, while 52 per cent said they are yet to make workplace decisions.  

Accountants under pressure

Analysing the data across the individual industries, real estate emerged as the worst hit sector on the back of social distancing measures, which have seen restrictions placed on auctions and open homes — with 67 per cent of businesses reporting a decrease in revenue.

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Unsurprisingly — given that flights have now been grounded for over a month — aviation followed closely with 64 per cent.  

But the industry that has so far managed to fend off any significant impact is accounting, with 36 per cent of businesses reporting their revenue is equal to pre-COVID-19 times.

In fact, just 40 per cent of accountants reported a decline in revenue, while 54 per cent predicted it might decrease over the next three months.

These figures come into perspective when compared to real estate, where 84 per cent of businesses expect a gruelling three months ahead.

Speaking to My Business, the head of strategy at Momentum Intelligence, Michael Johnson, said: “For many businesses, accountants are considered the trusted adviser that help business owners and managers make more informed decisions to guide their organisations through tough times.

“This is important now more than ever as businesses are turning to their accountants to help them navigate the government’s economic packages and manage cash flow. This, at least in the short term, has helped some accountants weather the storm so far.”

But despite remaining in the black, accountants face a different sort of burden: mounting client expectations.

While business owners remained mostly optimistic across all industries, with 72 per cent reporting a positive mental health state, a closer look at accountants revealed that one in five is struggling.

Accountants admitted to Momentum Intelligence that the enormity of the job is having increasing demands on their mental health. Not only are they tasked with saving their clients’ livelihoods, but they’re battling their own anxieties.

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…”

A third added: “As accountants, the burden of explaining and administering the government’s response has fallen on our shoulders. It will be largely unchangeable and leads to high levels of anxiety.”

This dynamic report will serve as a barometer of how businesses, and working Australians, are adapting to the changed working and social environment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will enable us to map attitudes, confidence and business activities as they evolve by market sectors, revealing which industries and professions are adapting most effectively to the “new normal”.

The first instalment of the survey report is expected to be released next week, with more articles to come.

Accountants under pressure as COVID-19 measures bite
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has an extensive career as a journalist across finance, business and market intelligence. Prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja spent several years unravelling social, political and economic intricacies in Eastern Europe. 

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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