Intuit released the results of an interesting study this week, which sought to take the pulse of both small businesses and the accountants who help advise them.

A few findings are worth noting.

Despite a soft economy, 91 percent of small business owners said they were optimistic about the growth potential of both their businesses and their entire industries. That’s a pretty powerful statement.

And as their businesses and industries grow, these same small business owners say there are other services they’d like their accountants to provide that they currently don’t.

Like what? Like better business advice, help in understanding bookkeeping and up-to-date technology.

I don’t know about you, but that finding surprised me. For the last six years, I’ve been writing story after story about how accountants are moving into financial and investment planning, technology consulting, succession planning, and overall business advice that goes way beyond compiling financial statements and filling out tax forms.

But apparently accountants are not doing enough. And who would have thought that there were small business owners out there that really want to understand the intricacies of bookkeeping?

Another finding was a bit more disturbing – and needs the profession’s undivided attention. A full 93 percent of accountants said they felt their small business clients were very satisfied with the client service they receive, but their clients beg to differ. Only 68 percent of small business owners reported being very satisfied. This is the kind of disconnect that needs to be addressed.

On a more positive note, another finding puts into print a feeling I have had ever since the Enron scandal broke. Small business owners develop solid, personal relationships with their accountants that are the envy of lawyers and stockbrokers nationwide, and what happened in Houston couldn’t be less relevant to them.

The numbers bear this out. While 96 percent of accountants said they felt that the Enron mess had damaged the entire accounting profession, a whopping 88 percent of small business owners said they have NOT lost confidence in their accountant, and plan to continue turning to them for advice and counsel in the future.

That’s a ringing endorsement of the foot soldiers in the accounting profession – and should make them awfully proud.


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