Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Accountants are first port of call for SMBs struggling with rising costs as 3 in 4 experience increased demand for advice

  • Managing rising business costs most in-demand support area for accountants
  • Accountants recommend hybrid working (28%) to mitigate rising costs
  • But more flexible workforce post-pandemic means 7 in 10 accountants find SMB clients are struggling with managing payroll
  • 3 in 10 (29%) SMBs seek accountants’ advice when making hiring decisions

A study from global technology platform Intuit QuickBooks has found that seeking support from a business accountant is the most popular choice for SMBs in the UK addressing rising costs to their businesses – with more seeking support from their accountant than from the Government (through schemes such as Help to Grow), small business networks, and social media.

Over half (55%) are already benefitting from this support from their accountant, while a further 30% are planning to enlist their help. Meanwhile, just 42% have already sought government support, while 44% look to small business networks, and 50% to social media.

The driver behind this increasing support is clear: over three-quarters (76%) of accountants in the UK are seeing increased demand for advice managing rising costs – making it the most in-demand area of support for accountants. This is no surprise given that the main challenge for almost half (43%) of small businesses is the rising cost of living, with 33% feeling unprepared for its impact.

Combatting rising costs with staffing strategies

According to accountants, taking advantage of hybrid working is the main way SMBs can mitigate rising costs (28%) with changing the way they manage business finances following closely behind (26%).

However, flexible working causes its own challenges, including hiring new staff. Staffing costs are one of SMB’s biggest expenses, and over 1 in 4 (29%) already seek their accountant’s advice when hiring new staff. The demand for this expertise for hiring new staff (63%) and for meeting the regulations of hiring freelance/contract staff (66%) is clear.

While a vast majority (79%) of accountants do feel their SMB clients can make decisions on hiring new staff without them, some common mistakes are tripping SMB owners up, with the top issues seen by accountants being:

  • Hiring staff without knowing how they will manage payroll (34%)
  • Making hiring decisions without a growth/financial plan (32%)
  • Not knowing what the business can afford in terms of salary/benefits (31%)
  • Not investing in payroll software/trying to do it themselves (30%)

In fact, managing payroll itself is one of the major areas where SMB customers look for accountants’ support (69%). A constantly fluctuating job market and employment landscape in the UK following The Great Resignation, coupled with the impact of rising costs of managing a business and in the supply chain are unsurprisingly driving this.

Pauline Green, Head of Product Compliance & Programs at QuickBooks, commented: “The rising costs facing SMBs are clearly causing financial stress and concern, so it’s encouraging to see the majority enlisting the expertise of their accountants for support. Accountants are acutely aware of SMBs’ financial struggles, and a safe pair of hands to turn to when the going gets tough.”

In the current cost of living crisis, taking a holistic view of business costs has never been so important, and staff costs can be one of SMBs’ biggest expenses. Accountants are uniquely positioned to give strategic advice around the financial impact of hiring decisions, as well as help clients manage the nuts and bolts of payroll – a process that has become increasingly complex in the post-pandemic world of work.

”The impact of flexible working is a double-edged sword – clearly accountants see it as a sound business decision, but also recognise the difficulties it brings to processes like payroll,” adds Green.“‘Going it alone’ is even more difficult in the current climate, and leaning on the knowledge and technical expertise of your accountant can help you make the simple technology investments that can ease the payroll process.”

Representatives from QuickBooks will be speaking at Accountex, Europe’s definitive event for accountancy and finance professionals, at the ExCel London on 11 and 12 May.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Sam heads up Cheshire-based PR Fire, an online platform that has already helped over 10,000 businesses to grab widespread media coverage on their news at an extremely accessible price point.

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