Accountants ‘key workers’ of economic recovery, say SMEs

Small businesses are “heralding” accountants’ “increasingly critical” role in keeping them running since Covid-19 arrived, considering them to be among the ‘key workers’ of the economic recovery, according to new research.

A Xero study found 43% of small business (SME) owners said that their accountant has been crucial to their pandemic survival, with 37% saying that their accountant helped them retain staff during the height of the lockdown.

However, while one third (32%) of SME bosses turned to their accountant for business advice when Covid-19 struck, 34% turned to government websites and resources and 15% turned to friends or family.

Almost half (45%) of small businesses said their accountant is “more important” to their business than ever before, while 14% added they have turned to an accountant for the first time.

In addition, the study said 58% of SMEs named their accountant as their most trusted business advisor, assisting in areas such as business advice and planning for the future, with 61% saying their accountant supports them in areas they struggle with or are baffled by.

VAT (37%) and payroll (30%) were two areas in which SMEs said they felt “particularly supported” by their accountants, according to the study.

Darryl Swift, CEO of small business Impact Research, said: “Our accountant has been crucial to us, helping us make quick decisions on what to do next as a business. Thanks to them, we have been able to plan for various scenarios. The pandemic has meant that we now have a closer relationship than ever, and they’re really embedded in our business.”

Pamela Phillips, co-founder and MD at accounting firm de Jong Phillips, added: “Accountants aren’t just number-crunchers – they’re essential business partners. We’ve been helping clients interpret the ever-changing rules around furlough and the government support initiatives.

“Digitising and automating operations has helped save time spent on accounts as well, allowing us to spend more time on providing business advice.”

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