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Businesses seek accountant synergy, rather than size, Sage research finds

04 June 2014

Small businesses are not fazed by the size of the practice or name of the brand when choosing accountants to act as their business advisors, a survey by leading business software and services provider Sage UK and Ireland has found.

A high percentage preferred to choose a partner firm close to the size of their own. Thirty five per cent of small business owners either using, or considering using, an accountant or other business advisor agreed with the statement: "a firm of my size is more agile". Only five per cent of respondents disagreed.

The Sage Omnibus survey for May 2014, which spoke to 544 small business owners, found 42 per cent of SMEs believe "a firm of my size understands my needs best," and a further 43 per cent that "a firm of my size is more willing to work with us as a partner rather than a customer."

However there is opportunity for practices of all sizes to become trusted advisors to the small business sector as a large proportion of the respondents were still undecided if business partner firms of the same size as their own would:

  • Be more agile: 50 per cent
  • Understand their needs best: 41 per cent
  • Be more willing to work with as a partner: 42 per cent

More small business owners remained undecided than agreed with the statement "a firm of my size is more competitively priced", at 46 per cent versus the 38 per cent who expressed agreement. Only four per cent wanted to work with a business advisor smaller than their own business.

"It's not about the size of the practice, it's about what you can deliver to your clients that show the deep and broad value that accountants bring their clients. What Sage's latest Omnibus has found is that small business owners aren’t necessarily swayed by a large practice, but it is what their accountants can unlock for them," explained Paul Tooth, managing Director of Sage Accountants’ Division, UK & Ireland.

"Based on this data, it makes sense for smaller practices to work collaboratively with smaller businesses, demonstrating through shared experiences that they understand their client. Yet with so many businesses undecided on the matter there’s everything to play for practices of every size. Synergy, not size, is the most important facet of the relationship and the creative practice that can offer a diverse set of services can win a customer for life."

Additionally, those businesses using cloud computing solutions to confer with their accountants are realising valuable savings in time and money.

Although only nine per cent of small businesses surveyed claim to use an accountant specifically as a business advisor, of those that did, 42 per cent found that they saved up to or over two hours each week by collaborating with them online.

Ten per cent of the business owners claimed easy savings of over ten pounds per week are realisable from online collaborative tools, which rise in line with the growth of the business.

Notes to editors
The survey data is taken from Sage's monthly customer Omnibus research of small businesses in the UK. The May research featured 544 respondents.

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