According to the 2015 Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index, which surveyed over 1,200 SME owners, CEO and CFOs in January, nearly 40 per cent of SME owners say they have no trusted adviser at all while just 9 per cent nominated their accountant.
Trading partners (26.6 per cent) and friends (9.7 per cent) both ranked higher than accountants, although bank managers ranked lower (4.2 per cent).
Scottish Pacific chief executive Peter Langham said the index identifies a great opportunity for business advisers in the current SME market.
“The fact they were more likely to trust a friend to provide advice about their business than their well-qualified banker or accountant shows there is a real opportunity for finance brokers, accountants and lawyers to step up and fill this gap for SMEs, to make the process easier for them,” Mr Langham said.
The index also found SMEs are less optimistic about revenue growth compared with September last year.
The average growth rate being forecast dropped significantly - to 6.7 per cent from 8.6 per cent - from the growth forecast in the previous SME Growth Index (September 2014). In addition, more SMEs are now predicting negative growth - 16 per cent, up from 13.2 per cent in September 2014.
The research showed significant disparity between growth forecasts for SMEs based in different states, with more than half of NSW-based SMEs (52.1 per cent) classifying themselves as in a growth phase, compared to only 24.7 percent of WA-based SMEs.
"It's concerning that 38.9 per cent of WA SMEs currently find themselves in a contracting business phase, compared to only 2.1 per cent of NSW SMEs - perhaps a direct consequence of the major contraction that has occurred in the mining and resources sector," Mr Langham said.