Getting professional advice from an accountant when choosing an accounting solution cuts confusion, saves time and can help drive business performance, according to leading accounting solutions company BankLink.
According to research* commissioned by the company, 49 percent of SMEs are reaping the rewards from getting expert advice on selecting their accounting solution - reporting high levels of happiness (95 percent) and confidence (94 percent) in using this solution.
A key frustration cited by SMEs was the time required to do their books, particularly among those using spreadsheets (36 percent), paper-based records and cashbooks (both 21 percent). The more feature-rich cashbooks were shown to be the most time-intensive. A total of 80 percent of cashbook users spent time manually entering their transactions, while 42 percent invested over 11 hours on their bookwork on a bi-monthly basis.
Richard Reese, BankLink General Manager of Operations, said the survey results highlight the value of professional accounting advice, and the opportunity for accountants to take a more active role, starting by recommending the best accounting solution for their clients.
"The array of accounting solutions available can be confusing and leads to many SMEs selecting a full 'bells and whistles' package thinking it will be the best option. The risk is that these solutions can be expensive and time consuming and don't match what the SME actually needs. While 'DIY' solutions are great products for some people, it's not a case of one-size-fits-all."
Nearly 40 percent of SMEs stated that they only occasionally received advice from their accountant that goes beyond standard GST and compliance work, revealing that there is a big opportunity for accountants to do more. A further 18 percent said they never received this type of information at all.
According to Reese, "Rather than the SME attempting to complete as much of their bookwork as possible in isolation, they need to appreciate the value that their accountant can provide and work collaboratively with them. This helps ease some of the pressures that SMEs face."
Reese added: "In many cases, it is more efficient for the accountant to manage a number of these processes as they have the expertise and tools required. This saves small businesses time and costs, while also ensuring they have better financial insights to focus on the most important thing - running their business."
Logan Granger, Director of Johnston Associates Chartered Accountants Limited in Ponsonby, welcomed the results. "We understand that we are often one of a small group of trusted advisors to our clients. Helping an individual or small business choose a solution that is specific to their needs ensures that they have the right accounting tools to run their business efficiently. By making use of technology to automate data transfer and other manual tasks, we are able to spend more time helping our clients make sound business decisions."
"Solutions like BankLink, which we offer through our practice, break down the barriers between the client and us, which is why we recommend their use. We're not hassling them all the time. We can turn jobs around more quickly for them and be more responsive to their needs."
Alex Melrose, owner of VetCare, a veterinary hospital, cattery and retail store in Grey Lynn took advice from Johnston Associates when deciding what accounting solution to use for his business. Alex now receives all the information needed for understanding and managing his cash flow, and using this process saves him a considerable amount of time.
"Prior to implementing BankLink, I was spending hours each month doing my accounts even when my business was much smaller," Alex explained.
"I no longer have to send my accountant paper bank statements or search for my receipts as everything is automated. By using BankLink my time spent on bookwork has been reduced by 90 percent. It now only takes me 30 minutes a month."
BankLink offers a range of secure, accurate and reliable solutions through accountants that fit different skill levels, depending on how much time the SME has and how involved they want to be in the accounting process. A total of 86 percent of those SMEs surveyed who used BankLink are likely to recommend this solution to others.
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