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Fee resistance, stress and lifestyle among top client hurdles

New research indicates accountants’ SME clients are becoming increasingly value conscious, in an environment where lifestyle factors are becoming increasingly central to running their day-to-day practice.

Professional Development Katarina Taurian 02 November 2017
— 1 minute read

A Bstar survey of about 200 SMEs nationwide shows one of practice managers’ biggest barriers to change in the last 12 months was fee resistance.


“Many advisers tell us that SMEs aren’t willing to pay for business improvement services. Our observation is that this barrier exists because SMEs are extremely value conscious,” the report said.

The top concern for firms is business planning, with 98 per cent of SMEs believing there are opportunities to grow their business, but only 20 per cent having a structured plan in place.

Protecting business and family assets was close behind as a priority issue, and SMEs said they are increasingly looking for ways to de-risk in the name of asset protection.

The majority of SMEs are planning to stay involved in their business long term, with only 15 per cent having set a retirement date.

Stress and lifestyle factors come third in the list of concerns for SMEs, particularly given the “heavy reliance” of business owners in their practices. About 27 per cent of business owners believed their business could operate without them, declining for the third consecutive year.

The importance of maintaining mental health has been increasingly on the radars of associations like the Institute of Public Accountants, and the tax office.

The IPA is currently completing a research project into the impact an accountant has on the mental health of their SME clients, with fieldwork so far indicating accountants significantly diminish the rates of depression and anxiety where they are giving business advice.

The ATO is also encouraging practitioners who are are struggling with their mental health to come forward, particularly in instances where non-compliance or unpaid debts are a contributing factor to their anxieties.

Fee resistance, stress and lifestyle among top client hurdles
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