Accountants are normally quite unassuming people, not given to self-congratulation. It is pleasing, therefore, when other people recognise our strengths. So it is with a survey from Sage Omnibus of more than 1,000 businesses which identified accountants as the most trusted business advisor, and which was reported in Accountancy Age.
A fifth of businesses (21%) say they are more open and honest with their accountants than their bank managers. Exactly half (50%) of respondents believe their accountants provide the most valuable business advice, which perhaps isn’t too surprising. What is rather more surprising is that just 2% of respondents said their bank managers provide the most valuable business advice! In fact 4% would rather take business advice from their friends, and we aren’t even told who these friends are. Needless to say, these friends probably are not bank managers!
While I think we can take some comfort from the results of this survey, we must not be complacent. Despite the financial crisis and the perceived failure of the profession to sound the alarm bell, accountants retain a degree of respect which bankers are struggling to command. This is hugely important. The status of trusted adviser is much-coveted, and means that businesses and individuals turn to their accountants for advice in preference to other advisors. Trust, it is often said, is hard won, but easily lost. We need to continue to work hard to retain this trust.