As small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) secure new business and continue on their growth curve, the need for specialist finance skills with commercial acumen will grow too. Finance and accounting has become an increasingly important focus for many SMEs as these professionals are well placed to analyse and forecast revenue and expenditure to support financial decisions affecting business growth. Businesses that aren’t embracing finance early in their growth phase may be limiting their potential. Here are five reasons SMEs should integrate finance into their business:
Research conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) in 2015 revealed that £2.9 billion is lost to UK SMEs each year due to a shortage of qualified finance and accounting employees. The study showed that the average company loses £1,277 per annum, comprising of tax miscalculations, invoices not being issued and payments that bounce. Qualified professionals with finance skills are able to assist businesses alleviate pressure and concerns over conforming to compliance regulations.
2. Time management
The AAT study revealed that 60 per cent of SME owners are responsible for managing their company's finances, which adds pressure to maintain and provide strategic insight on the company’s finances. SMEs are often stretching their resources across all functions within a business, and as a result, finance can sometimes be overlooked due to a shortage of time.
Specialist professionals with finance skills can provide valuable industry insight. When finance partners with businesses, SMEs are able to spot risks and opportunities that would otherwise may have been missed. Risks and regulations can be flagged at an early stage, allowing the necessary intervention and business preparation. And where there is scope to improve systems or processes - to boost revenue or increase efficiencies - the appropriate action can be taken.
When SMEs deal with other companies - such as suppliers, partners and clients – it’s helpful to have someone with finance skills to help. This means tasks can be completed quickly and efficiently, with less potential for confusion and misunderstandings. It adds credibility to SMEs, as third parties get to deal with an expert in finance and accounting. This gives the impression that the business is well-structured and resourced.
Finance professionals offer a broad range of financial skills, which can be put to good use within the business. They are able to offer strategic business insight into the current regulatory regime and economic conditions. They may also be able to assist with budget-setting and in terms of ranking priorities for the coming quarter and year. Finance crosses over with various functions within businesses, meaning qualified professionals can add value to SMEs.
Hiring finance staff for your SME
SMEs appreciate why they need in-house finance skills, but often they lack the budgets to hire permanent finance and accounting professionals. Where companies have limited resources available there are other recruiting options to consider.
Employing interim or temporary finance and accounting professionals to focus on a particular task or project, during periods of demand, can be beneficial. Hiring a specialist on an interim or temporary basis can ensure key projects are completed and business priorities are met. Finance skills and knowledge can also be transferred to permanent members of staff, ensuring they are capable of managing financial tasks going forwards.