The AFR Top 100 Accounting and Consulting Firms announced

Despite the unforeseen challenges and diversions experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bentleys Network has focused on delivering value for its clients and its community to retain its position at number 12 in the 2020 AFR listing of Australia’s Top 100 Accounting and Consulting Firms.

Tony Sacre, CEO of the Bentleys Network, was interviewed by Edmund Tadros, Professional Services Editor of the Australian Financial Review, to share his perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 and the year ahead.

How has COVID-19 impacted Bentleys’ service delivery over the past year?

“When COVID-19 first started ‘hitting our shores’, we were just wrapping up a Partners Conference and that allowed a fair proportion of our Partners within the Network to strategise how we were going to approach the pandemic and adjust our operations,” said Tony Sacre.

“We expected some of our lines of business to suffer, but this wasn’t necessarily our focus. Our primary focus was on our staff and our clients. We wanted to make sure our people were safe and well looked after, and similarly, we wanted to ensure our clients were healthy and well looked after, and in as strong a position financially as they could be. As such, we tried to speak to all our clients, and I believe that this front foot approach to the pandemic had a follow-on effect to us maintaining a better than expected performance for the year.

“Our clients knew they needed to have a certain body of compliance work performed so that their own financial stability could be maintained and they could continue to operate. This was our priority. Our tax experts interpreted, communicated and made accessible all the support measures available from state and federal governments, so that our clients could mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.

“Some of our clients were also keen to evolve their businesses, to adapt to the new environment and their customers’ needs. Our specialists and advisors stepped in and we have seen some inspiring examples of business evolution.

“Our marketing team pivoted to share high quality content with our community, and to help businesses endure the pandemic and to rise above it.

“In other words, our focus was first and foremost on our people and our customers to support their resilience during the pandemic, rather than on our own bottom line, and I believe this led to Bentleys maintaining relatively strong performance during the year.”

What do you expect for the year ahead?

“As we emerge from COVID-19, I expect we will continue to field the odd curve ball in order to manage the lingering impact of the pandemic,” said Tony Sacre.

“Recovery is unlikely to be linear, there will be new challenges, as we’ve just started to witness in South Australia. As such, we will continue to be agile to assist our clients with managing their affairs, whether they be related to their finances, human resources, cyber security, or governance.

“As we cover all these matters, and more, the value of being a trusted advisor is paramount to our clients. In the US, when people have concerns about a particular matter, their first call is usually to their lawyer. In Australia, it is to their accountant/financial advisor.

“At Bentleys, this trusted advisor status is earned, and not something we take for granted. We view it as a form of social contract whereby our clients and business community know that the team at Bentleys will exercise best efforts to ensure quality advise about their future.

“Our clients know we take a real interest in them, it’s authentic and it’s a passion. It shows. It’s part of the Bentleys’ DNA and is very much evidenced in the internal work we saw in our recent review of our corporate values.

“I feel accounting, as a generalisation, is no longer seen as a ‘rear window’ industry, but rather a forward looking one than can assist people with forward planning, ensuring all their financial affairs are in order and illustrate a pathway to success, thus helping our clients get to where they want to be.

“I’m very proud of all the work done this year by the Bentleys teams, and I know that the year ahead will have challenges for ourselves and our clients, but they are challenges I know that we can successfully overcome.”

Read more about Australia’s Top 100 Accounting and Consulting firms by visiting the Australian Financial Review:

We, at Bentleys, are doing everything we can to help businesses come out of this challenging time in good shape.

We will continue to update our COVID-19 resource hub with important developments, so please return soon.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

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