Research house Bstar has recently revealed the accounting services small to medium businesses are most likely to need, want, and buy. Though the findings don’t come as big surprises, the fact that the industry is finally starting to act on them is a shift in behaviour, compared with previous quarters.
The study revealed CFO-type services, like advice on profits and cash flow, are the most sought-after solutions amongst small businesses. As we’ve been seeing in the recent past, the future of the accounting industry seems to be all about advisory services.
The advisory services route is also true for those serving medium-sized businesses, as they reach out to accountants for “sounding board” type services. These services, particularly popular amongst businesses a few years out from sale, involve regular meetings where business risks, growth opportunities and industry changes are discussed and planned. Grant Bloxham, chief executive for Bstar explains it further, “it’s like a board of advice, as opposed to a formal company board, and it helps SMEs build value, grow, and transition their business.”
Bstar found at least 70 per cent of all SME purchases from accountants fell into the advisory categories in the last year.
“Accountants need to be building skills in that area; that’s the challenge,” says Mr Bloxham.
Bstar’s previous research had shown accountants’ high awareness but low action in capitalising in the advisory services opportunities. However, this year there has been a spike in new service areas training, also from non-senior management. Mr Bloxham is optimistic; “hopefully this indicates that accountants understand the opportunities in business advisory,” he says. We will have to wait and see.