UKs small business owners are unsatisfied with their accountants


Despite client experience being one of the most important drivers of growth for an accounting firm, new research has revealed that many small business owners wouldn’t recommend their current advisor to someone else.

The analysis from small business platform, Xero looked at businesses using any online bookkeeping tool. It found that 80 per cent of small businesses are working with an external accountant or bookkeeper. However, 70 per cent said they would not recommend their advisor to others and over a quarter said they are likely to switch accountants.

Over one third of small business owners even go as far as telling people to avoid their accountant, saying that they don’t understand business challenges, don’t provide the right support, charge too much and aren’t keeping up with technology.

With the advent of new legislation such as Making Tax Digital, there is now an even bigger impetus on client satisfaction. The research found that in 2019, when asked about what small business owners wanted from their advisor, they listed: industry insight; proactive advice and support; technical competence and the feeling that they are the priority.

The top mistakes that are causing business owners to switch accountants include: rarely providing support, limited industry knowledge, making them feel like a low priority, being behind on technology, being unresponsive and not providing enough value.

When it comes to client satisfaction with their accounting firm, the firms using online and cloud-based tools seem to be performing much better. On average, tech-savvy firms using online tools have a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 20 versus -5 for those still using traditional accounting tools such as desktop software and paper receipts.

Damon Anderson, Director of Partner at Xero commented: “It’s vital that accountants are helping their small business clients succeed – and it’s a concern  that so many business owners wouldn’t recommend their advisor to someone else.

However, it creates a real opportunity for accountancy firms to really benefit. “By adopting the right cloud tools, they’ll be in a far better place to improve their NPS score. Take Sharon from Kinder Pocock or Paul from The Wow Company. They’re amongst the many pacesetters who have seen their businesses prosper by taking the simple step of improving client satisfaction. In the wake of Making Tax Digital, it’s never been more important to be the driving force of huge technological change.”