Survey Shows Accountants Are Most Trusted Advisers

Accountants are sought after for business advice more often than lawyers or bankers, according to a new survey of small business owners.


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Accountants were preferred by nearly 82 percent of the small business owners surveyed in August by online payroll service SurePayroll. Preferences for counsel from lawyers (14 percent) and bankers (4 percent) lagged far behind.

The survey also asked small business owners which of those three professionals have been most important to their success, and again, accountants came out on top. The survey said 75 percent of the 550 small business owners surveyed cited accountants, 13 percent chose bankers and 12 percent said lawyers were the key contributors to success.

SurePayroll president Michael Alter said, “The research confirms our belief that most small business owners view their accountants as trusted business advisers who can help them to grow their business.”

The August e-mail survey also revealed that not all business owners were satisfied with their accountant, however. In fact, 17 percent do not use an accountant at all, and one in 20 may change accountants. To improve service, small business owners said they wanted more frequent communication and more business advice.

There may be no better time to get good guidance than now, when small businesses are facing the triple threat of rising interest rates, ever-higher oil prices and skyrocketing health care costs. Alter told Bloomberg TV recently that 11 percent of SurePayroll customers said they may drop health care benefits next year if costs continue to rise.

“It’s a real tough time to run a business,” Alter said. He said two-thirds of small business owners believe that inflation will have a negative impact on their business this year, and that they are “extremely worried” about interest rates continuing to rise.

SurePayroll, the nation’s largest online payroll provider for small businesses, releases economic indicators every month, gathered from employee and contractor paychecks for more than 17,000 small businesses. SurePayroll, based in the Chicago area, also regularly surveys its customers on a variety of topics.

What are some of the top challenges of owning a small business? According to a SurePayroll survey conducted in July: Finding and keeping qualified employees (19.3 percent); balancing business development efforts and current workload (18.3 percent); managing their work time and priorities (14.6 percent); managing employees (11.9 percent); generating expected revenues (11.9 percent); creating a work/life balance (10.8 percent); meeting their income goals (7.3 percent); and acquiring capital to grow (5.7 percent).

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