New Research Reveals the Increasing Value of Accountants for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Report Finds Accountants To Be Crucial Advisors Regarding Technology

Zoho, in partnership with AccountingWeb, released a new report outlining the competitive advantage gained by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) when their accountants are able to offer more than bookkeeping services. Analysis from the report suggests that accountants are particularly well-suited to provide reliable technology advice to SMBs struggling through software decisions and unable to afford outside consulting.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail by the end of their first year and 50 percent close up shop by the end of their fifth year. Given this high potential for failure, SMBs are increasingly seeking practical guidance, specifically on which software, data security, and network to choose from, as well as more general technology advice.

The North American survey conducted by AccountingWeb—with over 400 firms participating—provides insight into how accountants feel about giving technology advice and why they are stepping up to be more than just bookkeepers.

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According to the report, accountants are being asked for technology advice from 83 percent of their client base. Outside of tax season, nearly 40 percent of accountants receive anywhere from five to 20 technology questions per month. These findings conclude that SMBs are looking for input and hoping to get answers by consistently asking their accountants for help. However, if accountants aren’t proactively offering help, companies should be asking for it.

Additional findings that may impact a small or medium-sized business’ decision to ask their accountants for technology advice:

  • Accountants are typically interested in handling questions about the following types of technology: desktop accounting software (62%), software training and support services (46%), and data security (57%).
  • Accountants are motivated to provide technology advice because their clients are asking for advice (38%) and it allows them to exercise their passion for technology (21%).
  • In addition to answering questions for clients, accountants proactively recommend technology to clients when they spot a need (94%).

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“These findings show that business owners are clearly seeing their accountant and bookkeeping partners as far more than simply number crunchers. The challenge for those professionals is to revise their business models to capitalize on that demand. Moreover, if business owners expect to receive valuable technology advice then they need to be prepared to pay for it,” said Andy North, publisher at AccountingWeb. “This is part of a wider change in the relationship between accountants and their clients that started at the turn of the century.”

“Zoho helps accountants overcome the challenges of giving business advice by providing an all-in-one suite of apps that connects an accountant’s core focus, finances, with nearly every tool that their client may need,” said Raju Vagesna, Zoho’s Chief Evangelist. “In addition, our Zoho Partner Program provides financial professionals one-on-one trainings, resources, and support to help them expand their accounting and bookkeeping practices. Zoho is excited to continue working with accountants and helping businesses expand and develop.”

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