When I started out in accountancy, I was looking forward to helping all sorts of clients develop, grow and enjoy their businesses.

Then in mid-March the mantra of profit, loss and balance sheet was suddenly swept aside by a new language of survive, hibernate and retreat. The training manuals never prepared me for any of this new accountancy world order.

As March moved into April, clients who are usually always on the ball were asking in droves - what on earth should they do?

When a successful client called, a client with £1.5m profit and £5m in the bank to enquire about making 200 staff redundant and the liquidation of the company – things were clearly at a different level. Whilst we knew matters were going to be tough this was a completely different level of tough.

As I surveyed the near empty office, at least we had successfully deployed 600 plus staff to the home front, who were now diligently working in everything from sheds to back bedrooms.

I reflected on the clients and sectors who were going to be impacted, even my school friend with his restaurant – will hospitality be hardest hit? A garden centre client with the septuagenarian customers isolating at home was now struggling.

Each time the phone rang my heart sank and it rang frequently, with each call bringing a myriad of problems, limited options and a large dose of anxiety. I wasn’t in accountancy, I was in business and financial ICU.

I looked at the number on my phone, a client in the travel industry. I dreaded picking it up. After talking through the issues, it turned out that due to careful management of their customers they had enough cash to last them until March 2021. A rare glimpse of hope and a client whose business would emerge intact from hibernation.

The next call was from the entrepreneurial owner of a funeral business. “at least you will be doing okay”, I say. “Quite the opposite, I’m only getting basic direct cremation funerals and there is no profit”.

On my last day in the office my ‘little bit of knowledge’ had me convinced that we were in the 1930s and a New Deal was needed. More fraught phone calls through the day with numerous clients planning to lay off their staff.

Then we had the Rishi Sunak intervention, bringing with it the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, furloughing, grants and a wide range of financial aid designed to keep the economy in one piece. I had told a senior person I knew close to the treasury that solvency not liquidity was now the immediate and pressing issue.

A quick call to a client to express our concerns over the viability of the business was met with the reply that the directors had beaten us to it, and were equally concerned, sensibly refusing to sign the accounts until further areas could be explored within the business.

My restauranteur pal called to ask, “When would he receive his grant money”, money that in normal times is strangled by bureaucracy was already winging its way to him. Towards the end of that week there was a brief period of calm, the eye of the storm. Then the next wave of panic arrived as it became clear that the Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) were not getting through, burdened by red tape and financial systems unable to cope.

Six weeks in, and many businesses have had to adjust at an unprecedented rate, some are receiving their CBILS funds but others are facing the worrying prospect of closure. Meanwhile the government continues to throw everything in a desperate attempt to maintain a core economic infrastructure.

From survival and hibernation, there is now talk of economic revival and emerging opportunities to thrive - for those that can. However, the next big fear is that recovery usually brings casualties as businesses run out of cash and working capital. Captain Tom may have said the clouds will lift and the sun will shine again, but good weather for most is still a long way off.

Donald Boyd is a partner with Campbell Dallas and head of business advisory