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Accountants still advisors of choice for SMEs

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10th Nov 2008
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The credit crunch has done the banks no favours when it comes to relationships with their small business clients. Research released this week shows that for 70% of all small business owners the accountant is first port of call when it comes to guidance and advice. Over half of respondents did not consider bank managers in an advisory capacity at all.

The news was not all good, however. Only a fifth of all small business owners and managers also admitted to seeking financial advice more frequently, despite the looming recession. And over a third (36%) haven’t met with their accountants or bank managers at all in the last year, with a quarter of that figure citing poor advice in the past as a reason for not making contact.

The survey was conducted between commercial credit agency Graydon UK and business support organisation the Forum of Private Business (FPB). It asked over 300 small business about their experience of seeking advice.

Martin Williams, director of Graydon UK, said that SMEs needed to maintain a close dialogue with their bank managers more than ever.

“We certainly do not want a repeat of the last recession, when the relationship between banks and small businesses broke down completely,” he added.

FPB chief executive Phil Orford argued that as well as current lending restrictions, declining levels of service on the banks’ part was also to blame.

On a more positive note, nearly one in three firms surveyed (29%) said that they are seeking more financial advice now than they were a year ago, with 37% expecting that they will need to take more advice over the year ahead.

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