Small businesses in US, Canada aren’t using accountants’ complete skills, survey shows


By Ken Tysiac

Efforts to get accountants more fully engaged with clients have found limited success with small businesses in the United States and Canada, a new survey shows.

Forty per cent of small businesses surveyed in the US and Canada do not even use an outside accountant, according to a report by business management software provider Sage North America.

A majority of small businesses that use outside accountants are engaging them only for specific services and support, according to the web-based survey of 472 small businesses. The business owners who use outside accountants rely on them most for accounting services (76%), bookkeeping services (49%) and tax support (46% personal; 43% business tax compliance and 43% corporate tax).

A minority of small businesses that reported using outside accountants rely on them for financial planning (33%), business consulting (25%) and wealth management (15%).

The survey shows that accountants can continue to develop their relationships with small business clients to achieve full utilisation of their skills. Expanding the role of CPAs as trusted business advisers is a prominent focus of the profession and was one of 10 core objectives highlighted in the American Institute of CPAs’ Horizons 2025 report, a road map for the profession that was issued last year.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

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