Covid19 Archives - Accounts NextGen

How to network in the age of social distancing?

How to network in the age of social distancing?

Making professional connections can be hard at the best of times, but how do you network in the age of social distancing? Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on in-person networking, the opportunity to expand your professional network has never been greater, with meeting new people just a click away.

Professional networking has gone virtual in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you’re isolated at home, then Accounts NextGen enables you to think some people are looking to connect as well and have a conversation. Need to socially distance has put an abrupt stop to networking as we know it. Most networking is now being done virtually through online platforms such as LinkedIn and online communities, which have been hosting networking sessions online. It is truly said that “A lack of confidence is a major barrier to networking and can be easily combated by doing your homework on your connection and planning your message with a purpose.

Accounts NextGen believes social distancing has been a game-changer for networking. “There are some difficulties in translating these events into effective networking outcomes. Still, so many people followed up the event, and by sending an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and then getting into a private conversation.”

Get the basics right

Brown says it is important for professionals to ensure their online profile is a good representation of them but also reflects their aspirations.So have it filled out properly with a photo, the about section, your experience, a headline, and making sure it looks as professional as possible as explained by Accounts NextGen. According to the brand, establishing trust is vital when comes it to networking.

The Accounts NextGen says quality over quantity is important in virtual networking. Furthermore, it recommends getting in touch with people you already know, such as past colleagues or people working in your industry.

One of the biggest advantages of virtual networking is that geography is no longer a barrier to growing professional connections. Accounts NextGen explains that now you can talk to people all over Australia and you don’t have to leave your desk. When it comes to networking, he says it is important to choose quality over quantity. It is important to acknowledge that Your LinkedIn network isn’t a numbers game. Hence, the connections should be relevant and add value to your professional career.

How to network when you don’t have the time or skills?

The Accounts NextGen recommends that setting aside time each week for networking, and when reaching out to new contacts, ensure you have a shared interest, whether it’s a mutual connection, topic, or opportunity that is of value to them. Furthermore, more often than not, there is a purpose to your outreach, so it’s also important to consider what you can offer in return and focus on the relationship first before the outcome is explained by Accounts NextGen.


COVID-19 killed the career ladder

Source: Financial Review

If the career ladder was dying before the outbreak of coronavirus, it is certainly dead and buried now.

Jim Bright, an organisational psychologist, and owner of Bright and Associates Career Management has been talking about the inherent uncertainty of careers for 20 years.

That uncertainty is, even more, the case now, as COVID-19 has turned many industries and companies upside down, forcing them to furlough or lay off staff.

Think of the 35-year-old who was planning on a long career as an international pilot. Or the graduates who in early 2020 embarked on training programs in the tourism and travel sectors.

“They’ve had the rungs cut away from underneath them,” Bright says.

Louise Watts, a careers coach and co-founder of Transition Hub, argued that the acceleration of technology adoption over the past 12 months meant companies were scrambling to update their business models, which required new skill sets.

In turn, this made it even more difficult for them to offer steady, long-term employment to existing staff.

Eventually, companies may play a role in upskilling and reskilling existing employees rather than hiring talent, but not immediately.

“Organisations are slow. Particularly with COVID, they’ve been more inclined to go with: ‘We’re just going to survive this, and then we’ll think about what we’re going to do about skills,'” Watts says.

“If people haven’t seen the fact that their job might be changing, they’ve got their head in the sand. They need to take control of their own career so that they feel like they’ve got some sort of ownership over it.”

Jake Humphries is unfazed by the demise of the career ladder. Humphries, 22, is a project manager at pre-made meals provider Workout Meals, and can barely imagine working for the same employer for more than five years, let alone 20 or 25.

In the meantime, he loves learning new skills on the job and is clearly prepared to turn his hand to anything that is going. He certainly has no interest in any linear career path.

Humphries’ role entails everything from stakeholder management, helping out with the food packaging, arranging marketing and advertising campaigns, and organising video shoots.

He has previously worked as a sales supervisor in a gym and a sales manager at a leasing company.

“I definitely think you have to have the right attitude to learn and to get to grips with things quickly,” Humphries says. “I like to keep learning and keep meeting people.”

Employees need to take their careers into their own hands, experts say. Here are seven tips for doing just that.

1. Ask your employer

Watts recommends workers ask their employers what skills they should be developing to meet the company’s needs of the future.

“Ask what skills you should be learning. Ask what you can be doing in your own time to develop yourself for future opportunities. I think the employee needs to be much more proactive than ever before.

“Don’t just be in the old ways of sitting and waiting and hoping that things continue, or that you get that next promotion, or that someone says: ‘Let’s have a career conversation.’ It’s not happening.”

2. Be flexible

Bright says it is critical to loosen attachment to goals, because having set, unmoveable goals could lock you into a particular path, which may cease to be the best path.

“Goals can lock us into a desired future, which may actually blind us to better opportunities which could be come up along the way,” he says.

“You need to be in a state of preparedness, to be able to take opportunities when they come, and that means losing your expectations around the career ladder.”

3. Research the skills in demand

Jason Brown, a lecturer in careers and employability at La Trobe University, notes that LinkedIn’s economic graph provides a rich source of information about skills in demand.

“You can type in your current occupation and location to see what other jobs closely match your current skills and what new skills you could pick up,” Brown says.

4. Develop at least one new skill each quarter

Brown recommends workers develop at least one new skill a quarter.

“If there are limited opportunities to do this within your company, complete an online short course or micro-credentials to develop and have your new skills validated.

“Universities are now offering one and two-day courses to quickly update a specific skill.”

Watts agrees that short courses are often what is needed, rather than lengthy postgraduate degrees such as MBAs. She also notes that in many cases, online learning is free. The cost is your time.

5. Use social media

Watts suggests using LinkedIn as a source of keeping abreast of developments in your field and industry, as well as others.

“It’s not just learn, but it’s also be curious and start to really participate in conversations, understand what organisations are doing.

“Pay attention to what the best companies in the world are saying, what are they encouraging their people to do and what are their people saying. LinkedIn used to be seen as a directory that someone can find you on.

“Now it’s an education. [It gives you insight into] what’s happening in the world and you are able to play a part in that conversation. Start to play a part in the future of work.”

6. Think about your values

Think carefully about your personal values and about your boundaries, Bright says.

“Think about what you are prepared to do and not prepared to do because you can easily end up agreeing to doing things which take you way away from either your interests and your skills set, or your values.”

7. Think carefully about aiming to be the boss

Bright has met a lot of senior executives who were dissatisfied with work because they no longer used their original skillset but were focused purely on management.

“They are spending their time doing something they have no desire to do, which is management, simply because there’s nobody better to do it, and they get paid more.

“They’re locked into a treadmill of needing that money to afford their lifestyle, or they get themselves locked into social comparisons, so they feel they’ve got to keep up with others.

“And they end up in management roles, for which they are not particularly temperamentally well suited, on the assumption that managers are somehow superior.”

How to handle tax stress in the COVID-19 time?

2020 was the year that every business of the world had planned for expansion, profitability, and stability. However, it gifted anxiety, fear, and challenges to individuals as well as to business houses. With Covid-19 overshadowing lives, jobs, businesses, etc., it would probably be marked as the worst year for centuries. At the individual level, safeguarding our health from the deadly virus became our priority. Simultaneously, people in businesses ran in the need to stabilize their mental health with the taxation period on the verge.

Preventive measures turned out to be the only solution for every individual, and likewise, CPAs came for the rescue of businesses. Covid-19 pandemic has increased uncertainty, and the task to maintain stability and accomplish official formalities is beyond the word called difficult. CPAs are the only clouds that could drizzle a bit and provide the pacifying cooling effect in the hot storm of dust and heat in the form of Covid-19.

Those owning an accounting practice are versed with the degree of stress involved in it. With pandemic hampering everything around, the anxiety has got deepened with financial and psychological aches. Overcoming or battling with such high intensity of stress may not be easy, but it isn’t impossible to cope with ideal tools and approaches. Ironically, clients look for their accountant as a tool for stability, control, and support.

It is noticed that many accounting businesses have undergone a handsome revenue drop up to 40 % or above. Many CPAs are devoting this phase on mere establishing relationships by providing services either at nominal prices or free of cost. It is quite evident that stress is showing an upward trend on the graph with income scaling downwards.

Dr. Grant Blashki, a renowned clinical adviser, states that people in business are strictly required to need to maintain their health, happiness, and mental wellbeing. A widespread prescription stores its solution like regular exercise, proper and fruitful intake of diet, adequate sleep, sticking to a healthy routine and socializing with friends and family. It is also essential to stay attuned with the virtual tools and use them in the best and advantageous way, establishing and allocating the time for WFH and family life. It is advised not to allow problems to elevate beyond your control.

Overruling the wheel of stress

Disrupted sleep and constant worry about lethargy and low energy are some of the alarming symptoms of stress. However, staying disconnected from colleagues, friends, and family leads to negativity and drops the performance. It is time to go for professional help if any individual quickly identifies these.

For those on a WFH or work from home mission, it is crucial to structure a routine, have the zeal to stick to it, and be in touch with colleagues. Avoid working late or staying awake late or sleeping when the sun shines in the sky. One should emphasize on refreshing and refocusing

Meditation is undoubtedly fruitful, and doing things that exhilarate you should be focussed. The main motive should be breaking the cycle of stress. Take out time from your schedule when only you and positivity rendezvous with negativity far off.  You may even try to form a gratitude list to distract yourself from problems and have a sheer focus on positive things in your life.

Few tips to drop down stress and pressure

Dr. Blashki states that his organization, Beyond Blue, has crafted a website referred to as Heads Up, which contains videos, articles, blogs, and interviews, especially targeting folks in businesses. In short, all the above content has the message and guidance of modes to stabilize business advisors’ mental health. It also offers tips on how they can aid others to come out of blues. It creates an opportunity in a way to strengthen the relationship with clients. With uncertainty all around in business, clients look for all-round support and advice from advisors. Extending support beyond fiscal issues would be valued more during this phase.

Another way out is to conduct workshops for clients to build mental peace and tips for managing the business in the rough patch. Helping others is highly effective in reducing problems and stress. You may find your problem almost negligible in front of others, and the peace obtained from helping others is incomparable. It imparts a great sense of achievement.

We all are dependent on each other, and a small effort in helping others in business or at a personal level can be a massive contribution to the community.

Some tips for tackling

  • Take time off from your business problems and drain your stress during it.
  • Be close and connected with family and friends.
  • Strike balance between work and home realms.
  • Reach out to the accessible resources for your mental stability.
  • Be aware of warning signs, such as fatigue and social withdrawal.

How COVID-19 has impacted the young CAs, and how can they take advantage of this current time?

The Novel Corona Virus has changed the working style across the globe, with the world going virtual. What seemed unrealistic earlier has now become an integral part of our life with the spread of COVID-19. Across the world, with some limitations and a bunch of advantages, every business and every profession is learning to overcome the deadly emotional and fiscal outcomes of the pandemic. For young Chartered Accountants (CAs), the outbreak of the deadly virus has created uncertainty and dilemma about their future.

COVID-19 outspread will be remembered for generations for the commencement of new working styles by facilitating businesses on virtual platforms, pay cuts, work from home trends, and rising unemployment with a large number of people going jobless. Just like other professions, CAs in New Zealand and Australia are also facing the outcomes of economic crunches due to the Corona Virus. They have been the victim of uncertainty about their future too.

Psychology professor Paula Brough requested that the young CAs be prepared for worse conditions, which could be a reduction in working hours or losing a job with the economy getting weak. Losing a job would amount to more significant difficulties of managing households, releasing expenses, payment of insurance premiums, or home installment or rent.

It is, therefore, vital for young professionals to maintain their physical strength. Taking a break is advisable, and so is seeking someone for support.

Working on soft skills

With the businesses facing hold up or multiple issues for their profitable survival, it is considered to be an excellent time for the novice or young CAs to inculcate soft skills which would aid them to combat the uncertain world.

Communication with the client is vital.

It is immensely crucial for young CAs to have strong communication with their clients and not rely on others. With the outburst of COVID-19, we shouldn’t expect them to be experts or technically proficient. CA’s are expected to work on their interpersonal skills. Communication from both ends is important and more significant to develop understanding and reliability between the two.

With everything on the internet, clients can have easy access to all information, but an advisor is always needed for expert and sound advice. Your communication skill should have an impact on being remembered and understood by the client. Your words should encourage clients to react and act. The bespoke response is requested to clients in their verbal style as one key won’t fit in all locks. New technology should be used to make the client understand like video calling or conferencing in place of traditional phone calls.

Adapt the new trends and be tech-savvy

The young and new CAs should be versed with the latest technology trends and be tech-savvy as much as possible. Being a CA, you should be creative, forward-thinking, and do planning to be ahead of time with new technology as it eases the work with newly added and improved features. So, go and check the most exceptional software company and its ideal pricing proposal. Know what tools are being used for screen sharing or video recording.

Every year, thousands of technological tools are introduced. Use the best one for an appropriate time to know it entirely before you suggest them to your client.

 Virtual association with like-minded people

Owing designation of CA is like icing on the top and imparts excellent benefits as you get to associate with the people having a similar mindset, approach, and knowledge. It facilitates you to connect with the folks belonging to the same industry and get acquainted with other chartered accountants.

Accountants to the rescue during COVID-19


While frontline health professionals have been saving the lives and health of Australians during the COVID-19 disruptions, accountants have been working flat out to save the businesses and livelihoods of their clients.

Major Government stimulus packages such as JobKeeper and the business cash flow boost payments have been critical in keeping many businesses operating, and these business owners have relied heavily on their accountants to understand the programs and lodge applications on their behalf.

For many accountants, this has created a major stream of new work, with new rules, conditions and eligibility requirements, and for some it has escalated their levels of stress.

“This has been a torrid time for many in the accounting profession and many are struggling with a tsunami of work which just came out of the blue,” says Paul Drum, General Manager of External Affairs at CPA Australia.

“The reality is that many of the changes we have seen were foisted on accountants, and there have been consequences as they have come to terms with the new programs and also had to manage what were in many cases urgent client expectations.”

Not only have accountants been dealing with regular and quarterly BAS lodgments, 2019 income tax returns, self-managed superannuation fund administration and working with clients in the run-up to the end of the financial year, but clients have relied on their accountants to urgently apply for the new programs which are administered through the tax system.

“A lot of people would have missed out on the stimulus packages without the help of their accountant,” says Elinor Kasapidis, CPA Australia’s Tax Policy Adviser.

In addition to the quarterly lodgment of activity statements, accountants are now having to report monthly under the JobKeeper program for their clients and in many cases also for themselves.

As the economy has contracted and business cash flow has become critical, many clients have had trouble paying their invoices and this was impacting on revenues for accountants, while adding to their workload.

“Many accountants are also on JobKeeper and they are also working very long hours,” said Elinor Kasapidis.

“Some of this extra work is included in retainer arrangements with clients, but there is also pro bono work and reduced fees, because accountants are understanding that some clients just can’t pay invoices.”

While CPA Australia was not involved in the original design of the fiscal programs, it has recently been consulted by the Australian Taxation Office on the issue of lodgment and penalties.

The ATO did not adopt CPA Australia’s recommendations for longer deferrals, but Kasapidis welcomed the ATO decision to not apply late lodgment penalties for returns due in May and June if they were lodged by June 30.

The ATO has urged accountants and clients feeling “overwhelmed” by lodgment pressures to make contact.

“While the general interest charge will still be applicable, you can apply for remissions and we will take a reasonable approach in assessing your request,” ATO Deputy Commissioner Hoa Wood said in a statement on May 25.

Wood said the ATO recognised and appreciated the work of accountants to support their clients, and that “there have been additional pressures on the tax profession” during the COVID-19 crisis.

At CPA Australia, Paul Drum said he believed it was an “oversight” by the government and relevant agencies to introduce the new measures without discussing their design and implementation with the accountancy profession.

“There was just an expectation that accountants would manage all this, so I think it needed to be thought through a big better,” he said.

Many small businesses, he said, had gone ahead and lodged documents without the input of their accountants, often because they were in arrears with their accountancy fees.

This is likely to have resulted in a higher percentage of errors and inadmissible applications and ultimately more work both for the ATO and accountants.

So while accountants have been critical to helping their clients survive financially, it was inevitable that this increased pressure would take a toll on the mental health of some in the profession. Drum said CPA Australia’s message to these accountants is that “it is ok to not be ok” and that there are support resources available.

CPA Australia is offering a 90-minute webinar recording titled Mental Health at Work, which focuses on helping accountants recognise and support their clients, co-workers and staff who are experiencing mental health issues, in addition to looking after their own mental wellbeing.

There are also COVID-19 resource materials and a Mental Health Toolkit available to assist accountants on the CPA Australia website.

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