Speaking to Accountants Daily, RSM national chairman Jamie O’Rourke said the outlook for 2017 is bright.
“The whole thing about the accounting industry is that we're serving the business population, and we think businesses in Australia, particularly in that SME space, have reasonable confidence nationally,” he said.
“There's reasonably good confidence going into 2017, even though there have been some big worldwide events. How they unfold and their impact in Australia is still very much unknown, so generally business confidence is growing in a national sense.”
Mr O’Rourke admitted that there is some variance between the economies of the different states and territories.
“We’re noticing that WA is feeling some pressure because of the downturn in mining and resources,” he said.
“We’re still forecasting growth and we're still experiencing growth in Western Australia, but the growth won't be as strong as it will be on the eastern seaboard.”
Mr O’Rourke added that the government’s encouragement of businesses to be innovative is instilling a positive attitude in SMEs.
“We've heard consistently the current government and the former government talk about innovation and how they want Australian businesses to be innovative, and so we're continually questioning the way we do things to improve it,” Mr O’Rourke said.
Accounting firms can help clients pursue innovation by providing research and development services, according to Mr O’Rourke.
“We are investing heavily in the provision of research and development specialties in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth so that we can help those businesses that are thinking about innovation to maximise the business return and tax return on the innovation investment,” he said.
“It’s about making sure that our client population is maximising those opportunities, which is also linked to technology.”