Are the Big Four on the floor? How to embrace changing your business for good.

The Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, EY, PwC, KPMG) are not immune to the impacts of COVID 19. The Financial Review reported on 21 July 2020, that their reputations have been damaged because of how they have dealt with the economic downturn. Changing your business for good may be well down on their priorities. 

Those firms may yet reflect on their actions and with the benefit of hindsight, regret some of the decisions they did or did not take. Then again, they may not.

The article we reference is based off an AFR reader poll and lavished with readers insights. Ah a reader’s insight,  that chance for pundits of shapes and sizes to take potshots from underneath an umbrella of anonymity. It seems the AFR is delighting in the tough times that the Big Four are experiencing with articles published such as this ‘snippet’ from a leaked Deloitte’s memo.

So, why would the Big Four feel the impact? As expert advisers, surely they have a big, strong balance sheet? Right?

Well, no. Not really. Despite their expertise, they are still at the behest of the market. The big end of town has not been immune to the economic vagaries of the last six months. 

When an economy is as vulnerable as ours is currently, the big end of town pulls down the shutters. They will pause a lot of business as usual activities, except the very necessary, to keep the business moving forward, or at least not going backwards. 

Across all walks of business, companies are doing the same. 

The Big Four accounting firms cost-cutting is prudent for the times. Cutting staff is never done lightly. But when demand dries up, they have few other levers to pull. 

Benefits to the bottom-line are undeniable (and why would you deny it?). Yet, it’s as much about protecting the other thousands of jobs as it is about short-term profit.

So, the Big Four will be back. But they have been injured. 

They have lost staff with 1000’s of hours of experience and knowledge. That knowledge and experience has left the building. Gone. Not coming back. That will have a direct impact on the Big Four clients, many of whom will look for another home. After all, if you have to form a new relationship, you might as well see what else is out there.  

Re-evaluation across the nation 

So, what does it all mean for you and why should you care? 

Well, I think it is further evidence of a decision you’ve got to make. Should you play “follow the leader”? If the so-called big end of town is battening down the hatches, should you do the same? Or should you be a contrarian? Should you risk a little to potentially gain a lot?

What we know is that in a mature market, if you want to grow, you’ve got innovate (be different) or find some other way to take market share off your competitors. 

What is apparent now is that many of your competitors are battening down the hatches. 

Yet, this is an opportune time to re-evaluate a lot of your business practices. How things have been done in the past are exactly that, they are in the past. This is about changing your business for good

Radical changes will be seen as a response to COVID and its effects on your business so now is a great time to make those changes. We have already spoken about that in a previous article on the ‘act now’ topic. Honestly, heed the message if your business is to bounce forward.

The opportunity is there to pick up new customers, to advance into new markets, to develop new products and new ways to reach your market. It is the right time to look at processes and systems and suppliers. In any economic slowdown, an opportunity to grow your market share presents itself. As others pull down the shutters, the smart ones are opening up the blinds, the windows and shouting their messages out to the street. In times of change, there are more ears willing to listen. 

Meanwhile at BridgePoint Group

We’re doing exactly that. 

Bridgepoint Group has been fortunate to remain relatively unaffected by the fluctuation in demand. In fact, we have added resources in line with our 3-year plan for where we want to be. We see this change as opportunity.

Sure, staff are working from home and that has its challenges, but it’s also promoted some benefits such as a better work-life balance. Productivity continues to match the pre-COVID output. Training, as always, is ongoing. Training outcomes are linked to staff KPI’s. This improves the effectiveness of the output to and for clients. 

The daily lunchtime table tennis challenge has created a special problem though – it’s proven rather hard to do via Teams! 

Why, who, what – How? 

Keen to grow in the face of a crisis? How will you start? What’s the first task? Who can help? 

BridgePoint Group can. It’s what we have been doing every day since we kicked off back in 2011. We have the knowledge and experience in our team to help you unlock your business potential now. 

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Neil Parker
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