The demands of small business has placed even more of a burden on the services provided by the nation’s accounts. To answer the reveille, 19% added new services to their list of client offerings, 17% invested in new technology, and 20% have invested in their own continuing education and industry knowledge, according to Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions’ Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants study, conducted in conjunction with Decipher Inc.
Additionally, with this shift toward continually improving their businesses, accountants have ditched the slide rules and ledgers for high-tech accounting software. In fact 56% identify accounting software as the one technology that they cannot live without .
Small Business Network
The extra work is apparently paying dividends for the nation’s accountants. Eight out of 10 (80%) of the small business owners polled this year are “very satisfied” with their accountant’s service, as compared to 68% last year. At the same time, accountants also feel that their clients are very satisfied with the services they are receiving, with 94% responding to the high level of satisfaction.
In the area of services, small business owners express that they generally turn to their accountants for help with taxes (77%) and basic bookkeeping (56%). Accountants have also expressed that they are expanding their services, beyond basic tax and bookkeeping, into areas such as:
- financial statements (81%)
- payroll (70%)
- business consulting (67%)
- financial planning and investment (56%)
- industry-specific consulting (44%)
- human resources (16%) .
To transition the move into these new areas, accounts identified professional accounting and trade associations as key sources for training and information. Not surprising then, 63% of accountants belong to an industry association, which they feel has been beneficial in helping them keep up with industry trends, industry regulations and learn best practices. Apparently though, learning the skills is only half the battle as more than a third of small businesses are not aware that their accountant performs expanded services.
Additionally, the study shows accountants and small business owners both see an improving future ahead for their industries and individual businesses, despite declining economic conditions and the effects of war on the nation. Two-thirds of both groups say they remain “very optimistic” or “optimistic” about their prospects for future growth and success with , 32% of small business owners express that their accountant has helped them significantly during the economic downturn.
There is still room for improvement among some accounts, as 34% of small business owner feel their accountant has not helped them enough during this time, illustrating an opportunity for client service and growth, as small businesses continue to turn to their accountants for an increasing advisory role in their business.
Further, the extra work does not come cheaply for accountants. Overall, 70% of accountants feel that dealing with clients is their most time consuming job, while 35% of small business owners feel the same way about dealing with customers.