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You can count on accountants! The UK’s small businesses name their one number one service

Written by Gerty Bester on Monday, 06 December 2021. Posted in Financial management, Finance

The news is out – and of all those who help support the UK and Ireland’s vital small businesses, accountants have been named the number one go-to service.

You can count on accountants! The UK’s small businesses name their one number one service

The news is out – and of all those who help support the UK and Ireland’s vital small businesses, accountants have been named the number one go-to service. Named by small and medium businesses as 'critical', 9 in 10 SMBs rate accountants as an integral part of their business’ operation.  

Sage’s recent ‘Count on Accountants’ research gauged the mood of SMBs in the United Kingdom and Ireland as the two countries were coming out of lockdown and reopened their economies. The unusual research was designed to get under the skin of the relationship between SMBs and the accounting profession, just as the UK was coming out of lockdown.    

Small business owners say accountants are their number one-go-to service for SMBs – a finding which has even surprised accountants themselves! 

We talked to accountants and found that, surprisingly, accountants themselves underestimate the positive impact they have on the UK’s SMB community. Nearly two-thirds of accountants believe SMBs underestimate their value, in a finding that shows, thankfully, perception lags reality with 91% of small businesses rating accountants as a critical part of their business’ operation. When asked what services they would go to when first starting out a business, the feedback was clear: SMBs named accountants as the number one ‘go to service’. 

And in more good news for accountants, we also found that an accountant is the most consulted source of advice for strategic business decisions with half of SMBs saying they would go to them for critical guidance. This is compared to just a quarter who turn to business support networks (such as a local Chamber of Commerce), or just 15% of SMBs who turn to friends for guidance. Thinking about any significant disruptions to their business, two-fifths seek advice from an accountant. In contrast, only a third would seek advice from peers and business support networks. 

It is clear that accountants are critical to the UK’s economic recovery. Yet unfortunately, they underestimate the role they play in supporting the business community. Far from unloved and unappreciated, accountants provide a critical service for the nation’s small businesses and are especially important in a world of increasing political, regulatory and social change. 

In fact, the research highlighted the heightened importance of accountants to businesses in a world going through a lot of change. Over a quarter said COVID-19 had driven them to seek out the help of an accountant, and a fifth had named Brexit as the driving factor. Two-fifths, meanwhile, had named MTD (Making Tax Digital) as the reason they had sought out accountancy services.  

This all shows that there is much good will towards the profession from small businesses. It presents an open door for those accountants looking to promote other services, giving practices and individuals an opportunity to expand operations and become a de-facto strategic partner for their clients. So, here’s to the accountant! Simply put, small businesses couldn’t do it without you, our nation’s accountants.

About the Author

Gerty Bester

Gerty Bester

An accountant by trade and a technologist by nature, Gerty Bester is the Director of Product Management for Accountants at Sage. 

She started her career as an accountant then dipped her toes into the accounting technology industry.  Born in South-Africa, Gerty has travelled the globe with Sage, motivating her to move across the pond and resettle in Newcastle, where Sage’s global HQ is based. She is currently completing her MBA through Quantic School of Business & Technology.

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