The latest IFAC SMP Quick Poll, conducted in late 2012, showed that the smallest accounting practices and their clients are not immune to macroeconomic instability. With the continuing sovereign debt crisis, a double-dip recession in the Eurozone, and rising inflation in some regions, economic uncertainty pervaded many of the responses to the poll of small- and medium-sized accounting practitioners (SMPs). Despite these concerns, SMPs remain cautiously optimistic, showing their resilience and perseverance during challenging times.
After keeping up with new regulations and standards, three issues related to the health of the economy—attracting and retaining clients, pressure to lower fees, and rising costs—topped the list of challenges faced by SMPs. Similarly, respondents indicated that their clients, small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs), are most challenged by regulations followed by economic uncertainty. Respondents generally expect little change in business performance in the coming year; however, slightly more SMPs (5 points more) indicated they expect business to improve in the coming year compared to those who said the same at the end of 2011. They expect this growth primarily to be driven by revenue from new clients.
While respondents identified the reputation and credibility of the profession as a top issue facing the profession in 2013, they generally ranked public perception of the profession in their country/jurisdiction as average to above average and expect this perception to improve by 2025.
“As drivers of growth and development, small businesses are extremely important to the health of local and global economies. We must not underestimate the value of this sector and the role that accountants play in supporting SMEs as trusted business advisors. Therefore, regulators and standard setters need to be mindful of the impact their requirements have on SMPs and SMEs; as the poll results show, this is an area that continues to challenge both small businesses and their accountants,” said SMP Committee Chair Giancarlo Attolini.
The poll report includes notable variations by region and size of practice in addition to trend data based on previous polls where available.
The year-end 2012 poll received 3,767 responses and was conducted in 17 languages from November 21 to December 31. The poll, conducted twice in 2012, is intended to take a snapshot of key challenges and trends influencing SMPs globally; since the responses were not geographically balanced, the results are not necessarily representative of SMPs on a global or regional basis. IFAC wishes to thank the many member and regional organizations that helped with translation and distribution of the poll.
About the SMP Committee
The SMP Committee of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) represents the interests of professional accountants operating in small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs). The committee develops guidance and tools and works to ensure the needs of the SMPs are considered by standard setters, regulators, and policy makers. The committee also speaks out on behalf of SMPs to raise awareness of their role and value, especially in supporting SMEs, and the importance of the small business sector overall.
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of 173 members and associates in 129 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.
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