Over a third of those responsible for finance in small to medium sized businesses do not have a relevant qualification, according to research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).
Owing to this skills gap, every small to medium sized business in the UK could have lost an average of £1,277 due to issues such as tax miscalculations, unpaid invoices and fines.
Altogether, this is the equivalent of £2.9bn across the UK economy.
“Running a small business always involves juggling a lot of different priorities,” said Mark Farrar, chief executive of the AAT.
“With so much to think about, investing in a qualified member of staff to look after finance and accounting is often seen as a big step.”
The AAT’s research found that 60% of small business owners are responsible for their company’s finances on a day-to-day basis. Just 26% of small businesses surveyed said they have one or more dedicated members of staff looking after finance or accounts.
"What’s worrying is that many business owners think that finance and accounting for their business isn’t complex enough to need a qualification, and that whoever looks after it can just learn on the job,” said Farrar.
“The fact that businesses are losing money through accounting mistakes shows that this isn’t the case. Small businesses are often fragile, especially in their first few years, and every pound matters.”