More than half of accountants are seeing their business owner clients making changes in their businesses as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, according to a new survey by the financial information company Sageworks.

The survey found that only a quarter of the 164 accountants and business advisors who were polled within the past week said their business clients were not making changes because of this uncertainty.

[IMGCAP(1)]“Private companies operate in extremely risky environments that most of us would not accept,” said Sageworks CEO Brian Hamilton. “Business owners already have enough to worry about, and now they’re further burdened with how new policies are going to affect their bottom line and discretionary income.”

When asked about their clients’ fears regarding the fiscal cliff, nearly 30 percent of the survey respondents said their business clients were most worried that the uncertainty would continue. Another 21 percent said their clients worried about a fiscal cliff solution that would negatively affect their businesses. Others said their clients feared that the fiscal cliff solution would not address the longer-term issues of government spending and the national debt (20 percent). Eight percent of the poll respondents said the biggest concern among business owner clients was that the U.S. would actually “go over” the cliff. Only 3 percent of the respondents said their business clients are not worried about the fiscal cliff.

In an earlier survey conducted by Sageworks last month, financial professionals indicated the U.S. national debt was affecting their business clients’ hiring and investment practices.  Hamilton believes any plan would be better than the current stalemate. “You can’t expect businesses to plan for their 2013 and 2014 operations when you throw new policies at them on Dec. 31,” he said.



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