Mr Sacre said drought was the biggest challenge faced by Bentleys clients in the past financial year.
The firm of 71 partners booked income of $114 million in FY19, up 8 per cent, according to The Australian Financial Review Top 100 Accounting Firms list.
“Clients [in farming communities] are confronted by this substantial concern about the ongoing livelihood of their business, which might even be their family business,” he said.
“[When you’re that close] to your business, it’s sometimes hard to see more than one or two solutions.”
Boyce Chartered Accountants managing director Carmen Caldwell said clients were equipped to know what they could do with the government payments, but the challenge was “knowing what’s the right decision in the current environment”.
“There’s some really good operators that have been hit by a really hard time with the drought.”
She said such farmers should not be looking to get off the land, but rather at options such as destocking that could help them get through the drought.
With revenue of $22.92 million last financial year, Boyce was the largest regional firm in the Top 100 Accounting Firms list.
Ms Caldwell said the drought was being felt by service and retail providers in regional towns – Scott Morrison’s loan scheme extends to such businesses – who also may need to talk through financial decisions.
She was “mindful” that drought-stricken farms and businesses needed to cut costs, and said Boyce could adjust its service offerings to reduce fees, but said that clients still wanted advice on compliance requirements and management accounting.
“We actually find that during times like this, we’re sometimes needed a tiny bit more,” she said.
Mr Sacre said the drought made these clients time-poor, limiting their capacity to get advice. His firm had responded by sending agri-specialists out to visit farms and drought-stricken clients.
“Our aim is to make sure farmers and those within the rural community have the financial knowledge and resources to hold firm in a very tough situation,” Mr Sacre said.
NSW, Queensland and South Australia have had “a significant degree of focus”.
Boyce also undertakes farm visits, Ms Caldwell said. “We’ll be sitting in the Hilux, driving around the paddocks, sitting at the kitchen table. It’s really about getting to know their businesses, know them, and know their family.”
The full list of The Australian Financial Review Top 100 Accounting Firms for 2019 will be published in the Accounting and Consulting section on Wednesday.
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