San Diego (July 24, 2003) -- Accountants are strengthening their client relationships and investing more in their practices in order to improve client service, but clients may not be aware of the expanded services available, according to a study by Intuit Inc.

The majority of accountants surveyed (76 percent) have made changes within their practice, with 19 percent adding new services to their list of client offerings, as well as 17 percent investing in new technology, according to the "Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants" study. Twenty percent of accountants are investing more in their own continuing education and industry knowledge. Professional accounting and industry associations remain key sources for training and information -- 63 percent of accountants said they belong to an industry association. The report is based on a phone survey of 250 small business owners and 250 accounting firms conducted by market research firm Decipher Inc.

Small business owners continue to express their satisfaction with the service they receive from their accountants. The study found that 80 percent of the small business owners polled this year are "very satisfied" with their accountant's service, compared to 68 percent last year. At the same time, accountants themselves feel that their clients are very satisfied with the services they are receiving -- 94 percent of accountants feel their clients are very satisfied, Intuit reported.

According to the report, small business owners generally turn to their accountants for help with taxes (77 percent) and basic bookkeeping (56 percent). Accountants are expanding their services beyond basic tax and bookkeeping into areas such as payroll (70 percent), financial statements (81 percent) financial planning and investment (56 percent), business consulting (67 percent), human resources (16 percent) and industry-specific consulting (44 percent). However, more than one out of three small business owners aren’t aware that their accountant performs expanded services.

-- WebCPA staff

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