Accountants who work in small and midsize practices are still the most trusted advisors to their small and midsize business clients, according to a new study.

The report, from the International Federation of Accountants, examines the relationship between small and midsize accounting practices and their clients, including the supply and demand for business advisory services. The report also delves into how accounting practices can grow and be supported by professional accounting organizations across the globe.

Several factors can influence small businesses’ demand for advice, including competition and regulation, along with the relationship and level of trust between the accounting practice and the business owner or manager, along with the size and nature of the business.

“Today’s SMPs are knowledge-rich service providers with great potential to expand beyond compliance to fill a variety of business advisory roles,” said IFAC CEO Fayez Choudhury in a statement. “The report highlights factors that can help them understand how to most effectively evolve and diversify their service offerings. As SMEs have long been considered the ‘engine rooms’ of global growth and development, it is important that IFAC and PAOs help make SMPs aware of the opportunities that will help them and their clients thrive.”

Depending on their size, competencies, location and appetite for risk, small and midsize accounting practices are continuing to increase and diversify the business advisory services they offer clients. Despite competition from other service providers, accountants, especially those in small and midsize practices, remain the preferred advisors of their small and midsize business clients. Client-advisor interactions can be complex, but they can also be long-term relationships based on trust and communication, the report noted.

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