SME research proves accountant + advice = revenue rise

06 Jun 2013

Business advice from accountants proves valuable yet most SMEs have a tax-only relationship

Small and medium business operators (SMEs) who use their accountant as a business advisor rather than only for compliance purposes have a greater likelihood of financial success. In fact, those whose accountant was an advisor were 31% more likely to see an earnings uplift in the past year.

The March 2013 MYOB Business Monitor found that SMEs who have an advisory or consultative relationship with their accountant were much more likely to see a revenue rise in the past year. They were also more optimistic about revenue expectations in the year ahead and had significantly more work in their pipeline for the next three months.

Despite survey results showing an advisory/consultative relationship is best for business, findings reveal the majority of SMEs have a tax-only relationship with their accountant. 57% defined their relationship as being for tax return completion or GST reporting only. 32% had an advisory/consultative relationship, meeting with them regularly throughout the year for strategic business advice. The remaining 11% did not have an accountant.

Over one in five (21%) of those with an advisory/consultative relationship experienced a rise in revenue over the past year. Only 17% of those with a tax relationship noticed a rise and 16% of those with no accountant. Interestingly, 8% of businesses without an accountant said they didn’t know if their revenue rose or fell in the past year.

MYOB General Manager, Accountants Division, Adam Ferguson, says there’s a strong opportunity for accountants to further promote their role as valuable business advisors to small and medium business operators.

“Many business operators only use their accountant for tax compliance, especially around end of the financial year. They could also gain valuable information and advice on many areas of their business. The costs of a working relationship with an accountant should be considered in relation to the value an accountant can bring to the business and not just the up-front payments.

“Our research identified that SMEs using an accountant for financial analysis, general business advice and/or consulting on profit strategies, strategic planning and the like are 21% more likely to enjoy increased revenue than their peers. That’s a strong case to dig a little deeper and explore the possibilities of the relationship.”

When looking to the year ahead, business operators who enjoyed an advisory/consultative relationship were the most likely to expect a revenue increase (33%). 27% of those with a tax relationship expected the same.

Accountant advice can create investment opportunities

When rating their likely investment areas for the coming year, SMEs who employ the services of their accountant in an advisory capacity were more likely to intend to increase their investment in business strategies overall.

Nearly half of those whose accountant was an advisor said they planned to increase their focus on customer acquisition strategies (47%), while 43% intended to increase investment in customer retention strategies this year. This was considerably higher when compared to those with a tax only relationship (30% and 36% respectively).

SMEs with an advisory relationship with their accountant were also more likely to increase their products or services (34%), online marketing and advertising spend (31%) and the amount paid to employees (30%).

“Interestingly, ‘attracting new customers’ is a pressure point for 62% of SMEs without an accountant, and yet SMEs whose accountant was an advisor were more likely to increase investment in customer acquisition/retention.

“Getting sound business advice from a trusted advisor can make it easier to address the areas within your business in need of attention. Working across an array of industries and clients, accountants are in a prime position to evaluate key areas that a business can build upon in order to succeed,” says Mr Ferguson.

TOP 5 INVESTMENT AREAS FOR 2013 ADVISORY RELATIONSHIP TAX-ONLY RELATIONSHIP NO ACCOUNTANT RELATIONSHIP
Focus on customer acquisition strategies 47% 30% 26%
Focus on customer retention strategies 43% 36% 28%
The number or variety of products or services offered by the business 34% 21% 30%
The $ value of spending on marketing and advertising online 31% 16% 17%
The amount paid to employees in the business 30% 17% 16%
Accountant advice on compliance most valuable

Nine out of 10 business operators who have an advisory/consultative relationship with their accountant find value in the service the accountant provides. 49% said the service provided was ‘valuable’, while 38% said the service provided was ‘very valuable’. Only 9% said it was neither valuable nor invaluable and 2% said it was ‘relatively invaluable’.

Three out of four business operators whose accountant was an advisor believed the most valuable service they receive was ‘keeping my business compliant with tax, payroll and other regulations’ (77%). This was followed by ‘advice on how best to manage the money that flows through my business’ (53%) and ‘advice on strategies that will help me grow my business’ (34%).

TOP 5 VALUABLE SERVICES ACCOUNTANTS PROVIDE
Keeping my business compliant with tax, payroll and other regulations. 77%
Advice on how best to manage the money that flows through my business. 53%
Advice on strategies that will help me grow my business. 34%
Providing me with the right advice and documentation for obtaining funds to grow the business. 29%
Advice on what operational business moves to make e.g. setting pricing. 18%

Mr Ferguson adds, “As businesses realise the revenue and other growth potential to be gained from working with their accountant more regularly, they start to value that relationship a lot more. We hope more Australian business operators will begin to experience this value for themselves, and a reason why we have developed tools and resources such as MYOB CompanyDocs and the common ledger.”

-ENDS-

For further comment or other information please contact:

Angely Grecia, MYOB Public Relations Consultant

P: 02 9089 9071 | M: 0449 169 997 | angely.grecia@myob.com

About the MYOB Business Monitor

Established in 2004, the MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of small and medium business owners and managers, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton. The most recent study ran in January and February 2013, surveying 1,005 operators from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. The Monitor researches business performance and attitudes regarding areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline work, technology usage and the government. Note: the weighting of MYOB client and non-client respondents is reflective of overall market proportions.

Respondents were asked to define their relationship with their accountant in the following terms:

TYPES OF ACCOUNTING RELATIONSHIP
Tax Relationship See the accountant mainly for tax return or GST reporting purposes, typically once or twice a year. Not general business advice. The Accountant does not know the ‘ins and outs’ of the business very well but knows what they need for tax purposes.
Advisor/Consulting Relationship Additional to the above (e.g. GST), also see the accountant for financial analysis or general business advice and/or consultancy on profit strategies, financial planning, general business planning and guidance, etc. An on-going relationship, the accountant keeps regular contact and knows the business well.
No Accountant Relationship I don’t have a regular accountant. Either do it myself or rely on a bookkeeper.
About MYOB Australia

Established in 1991, MYOB is Australia's largest business management solutions provider. It makes life easier for approx. 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand, by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and now spends more than AU$30 million annually on research and development. In 2013, MYOB expanded its offerings with the acquisition of accounting solutions provider BankLink. For more information, visit myob.com.au.