FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Half of SMEs asked small accountants' help in importing

This helped them realise trading opportunities from free trade agreements, a study said.

External advice from small and medium-sized accounting practices (SMPs) is helping SMEs to realise the trading opportunities from new free trade agreements (FTA) and tax incentives being introduced by governments across the ASEAN region, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) revealed.

ACCA revealed in its report that over the last three years, 53% of SMEs participated in importing, 51% in establishing business networks, 43% in exporting, 28% in international supply chains, 26% in establishing international operations, whilst 23% did not participate in anything.

In line with this, majority or 65% of SMEs also participated in importing, 58% in exporting, 50% in international supply chains, 48% in establishing business networks, and 48% in establishing international operations.

SMEs are most likely to ask for help for the following from their accountant: foreign regulation (47%), foreign exchange (32%), protecting their intellectual property (29%), domestic regulation (26%), and establishing business networks (24%)

Meanwhile, SMPs frequently use a professional body (44%), staff knowledge and experience (44%), network organisation (34%), desk-based research (32%), business contacts (30%), and their personal network (14%) when preparing international advice.

Meanwhile, SMEs are most likely to obtain international advice from government (44%), their personal network (33%), their accountant (28%), their management consultant (28%), and an industry event (27%).

About 53% of SMPs are part of an international member association or alliance, 31% are part of an international network firm, whilst 16% are independent.

The study also conducted a roundtable session and found that whilst SMPs often have a unique relationship with SMEs, ‘this only goes so far.

Nina Tan, managing director of Business Intelligence and 8nalytics in Singapore, commented, “SMPs need to optimise these connections, which they don’t always do. If they don’t have business acumen across their client services – and particularly when establishing new ones – then that trust is a good door opener and nothing more’.

Equally, the rise of online marketplaces and cross-border e-commerce presents major growth opportunities for accountants, ACCA said.  

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