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Accountants sit at the heart of South Africa’s economic survival and recovery

Colin Timmis

Apr 22, 2021

Behind every resilient small business sits a hard-working accountant. Our latest research shows just how crucial the accounting industry has been over the last year – helping businesses to stay open, retain employees and map growth. 

More than half (56%) of South African small businesses say their accountant has been crucial in helping them survive the impact of COVID-19. 40% said working with an adviser meant they could keep employees on the payroll. Almost half (46%) admitted that they were more likely to turn to their accountant for advice than looking at government websites and resources (37%).

So it’s not surprising that an overwhelming proportion (86%) indicated that they would support a call on the government to recognise accountants as ‘essential workers’ in economic recovery.  

We’ve seen first hand the transformative role that accountants can have on South Africa’s small business industry. But we all need to work together – alongside the government – to promote and support their role.

We spoke with a few of our partners in the accounting and small business community about the support accountants have been providing over the last year, and why they are essential to the future of our economy.

Adam Young, owner of Cape Town-based leather bag small business, ROWDY

“Our accountant is an irreplaceable part of our business.We rely on them for reporting, best practice advice, and guidance about international sales, especially though the pandemic. With the help of our accountant, we don’t get bogged down by the numbers. We can just focus on the actual running of the business.”

Milton Segal, Senior Executive at SAICA – one of the leading bodies for accounting in South Africa

“Today’s accountants bring a wide-ranging skill set to small businesses. They will continue to support core compliance activities like tax, VAT and payroll, as well as bringing significant technical and strategic guidance too. 

Their guidance this year will play a critical role in helping businesses to remain afloat, but also to support with broader business strategy, digitalisation and long-term sustainability.”

Willem Haarhoff, from Xero’s Partner of the Year award accounting firm, DoughGetters Group

“As accountants, we understand how important accurate information is for business owners to help them make life saving decisions about their business. If they don’t have access to these insights with the help of their accountant, they’re more likely to make wrong decisions. This could lead to  financial losses, and ultimately businesses having to close.

When a business closes, this not only impacts the owners but the people and communities that benefit from those businesses. That’s why we work hard to support our clients, as they are key to our economy and local communities.”  

Louw Barnardt, Co-founder of Outsourced CFO

“Having access to a good accountant in a time like this can make all the difference. Businesses need to be up to date with prior numbers, but also have access to detailed forecasting and planning to navigate future challenges.

At Outsourced CFO, our goal to enable the success of ten thousand SMEs over the next twenty years remains intact. Each entrepreneur that is successful in spite of the circumstances contributes to the economic growth, job creation, and social impact that is so direly needed. Armed with the right tools and advisors, SMEs can flourish in the business world of the future.”

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