Nationwide Study by Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions Identifies Top Challenges and Opportunities Facing Accountants and Small Businesses
SAN DIEGO – June 13, 2002 – Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions, a business unit of Intuit Inc., (NASDAQ: INTU) today announced the results of a landmark nationwide study – “The Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants” – conducted in conjunction with Leflein Associates Inc., an independent market research firm. According to Intuit’s “The Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants” study, small business owners are extremely positive about their future growth and success, as 91 percent of small business owners have an optimistic outlook about the growth potential of their industries, and 93 percent feel the same way about their own businesses. The study also found that as small business owners face challenges in building their businesses, they continue to turn to their accountants, as key providers of a diverse range of services and counsel beyond traditional tax matters, in order to help them overcome some of these challenges. In addition, 59 percent of small business owners say there are other services that they would like their accountants to provide that they currently don’t, including better business advice, help in understanding bookkeeping and up-to-date technology. “As small business owners continue to have a positive outlook, accountants
are expanding their services in order to meet the growing needs of their small business clients and remain important players in their clients’ success,” said Dan Manack, senior vice president of Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions. “However, while we are seeing several synergies between how accountants and clients are working together, including the challenges they are facing, there are also several interesting dichotomies in this study, as well as several areas for continued improvement and growth potential.”
The study has also uncovered a dichotomy in how accountant and small business owners feel about the current state of the accounting industry. Even though 96 percent of accountants feel that the Enron scandal has damaged the accounting industry in some way, 88 percent of small business owners expressed that they have not lost confidence in their accountant, and
continue to trust them for counsel.
Small Business and Accountant Challenges
Challenges facing small business owners and accountants running their own practices are also explored in the study, revealing that they are facing many of the same challenges. Small business owners stated that the biggest challenge they face in owning their own business is not having enough time (36 percent), while two out of five accountants (41 percent) also feel that time commitments are keeping them from building their practice. In addition, 28 percent of small business owners indicate generating revenue
is a challenge, 23 percent growing the business and 21 percent keeping up with industry trends. Similarly, 33 percent of accountants express difficulty keeping up with the latest industry news and trends is a challenge. Other areas of concern for accountants include growing their practice (32 percent) and generating revenue (21 percent). In an effort to address the challenges they face, 81 percent of accountants express they might be able to build their practice and improve their client service by providing additional products or services that are offered by an accounting vendor; primarily client referrals, industry specific products, consulting services, marketing tools and ideas and an opportunity to connect with colleagues in the accounting industry. “The accounting industry continues to be competitive,” said Manack. “This study confirms what we already know – that accountants are integral to small businesses and play a critical role in their growth. Given this, Intuit Professional Accounting Solutions is continuing to help accountants meet their clients’ needs as well as build and showcase their own practices, with a range of services including revenue generating tools, training and
certification, integrated technology products, as well as marketing and consulting services.”
Additional findings from the study include:
* 59 percent of small business owners feel there is more that their
accountant can do to provide better client service
* 36 percent of small business owners and 41 percent of accountants
feel that time commitments are their main challenge
* 93 percent of accountants believe their small business clients are
very satisfied with the client service they receive, while only 68 percent
of clients feel the same way
* 49 percent of accountants feel there are additional services they
would like to offer their clients that they currently don’t
* 81 percent of accountants feel they may be able to build their
business with the help of an accounting partner
* 80 percent of accountants seek industry advice from colleagues or
professional trade associations
Accountants Offering More Services
While tax remains the primary service that accountants offer to their small business clients – 83 percent of accountants provide tax services – accountants are continuing to expand their offerings to meet client needs. Of the main services offered by accountants, 82 percent also offer financial statement preparation, while 75 percent offer bookkeeping and 62 percent offer help with payroll. Roughly half of accountants offer other services, including financial planning, retirement planning and integrated software and technology services. However, while the vast majority of clients (78 percent) rely on tax services from their accountants, only 66 percent are
taking full advantage of the other accounting services. “The Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants” study also found several
interesting disconnects in how accountants and small business owners perceive their relationships. While 93 percent of accountants feel that their clients are very satisfied with the level of service they are receiving, by comparison, small businesses’ perception of the quality of service they are receiving is high, but not as glowing. Only 68 percent of small business owners indicate they are very satisfied with their accountant’s current services. These findings suggest that while accountants have been making great strides
in expanding their offerings and counseling their clients on various aspects of concern to small businesses, there is still a discrepancy between theservices they are providing and the services clients would like to have, in addition to several accounting services that are being underutilized by clients. This gap in adoption of add-on services, indicates that as accountants continue to offer expanded services in order to increase client satisfaction, there is also a need for them to better market their own practices and help their clients fully understand their current offerings.