SMEs rate accountants as critical to their business
The overwhelming majority of SMEs say that their accountant plays a critical role in their business operation and is their first point of contact.
The Count on Accountants research, conducted by Sage, revealed that 91% of SMEs consider that their accountant is a vital adviser to their business, although nearly two-thirds, 64% of accountants believe that SMEs underestimate their value. However, Sage states that this ‘lags reality’ with nearly half, 49%, of SMEs going to their accountant for strategic business guidance.
The study also found that 92% of SMEs use the services of an accountant, with half, 49%, using their services at least weekly.
When asked what services they would go to when first starting a business, 34% of SMEs named accountants as the number one ‘go to service’.
Sage states that its research has stressed the importance of accountants in response to the changing world with 39% of SMEs naming Making Tax Digital (MTD) as their number one reason for using accountancy services and 18% named Brexit as a driving factor.
Over a quarter, 28%, said that Covid-19 had driven them to seek out the help of an accountant with over half stating that their reliance on accountants increased over the pandemic.
Paul Struthers, managing director, Sage UK, and Ireland, said: ‘Sage’s focus is to knock down barriers to help the UK’s SMBs thrive by giving them access to technology that provides them with a competitive edge. Accountants play a critical role in accelerating this success and our research shows they are vital to the UK’s economic recovery.
‘Our research shows accountants have an open door to become a de-facto strategic partner for their clients and this is an opportunity they must embrace.’
The research found an accountant is the most consulted source of advice for strategic business decisions with half, 49%, of SMEs saying they would go to them for critical guidance.
This is compared to just a quarter, 26%, who turn to business support networks such as a local Chamber of Commerce, or just 15% of SMEs who turn to friends for guidance.
Lydia Read-Potter, director, Book Smart Accounting, said: ‘As an accountant, this research is compelling and reassurance that the nation’s businesses stand by our side and appreciate how we can fuel their business dreams.
‘With half of small businesses now using accountants for strategic business advice, it represents a turning point in the profession. We have a real opportunity to become a seamless part of our client’s business: operating as a key member of their team and helping them drive better decision making to aid their growth.’