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SMEs lack qualified financial staff

More than a third of SMEs do not have a qualified person in charge of finances, research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found.

The study of more than 500 small and medium-sized business owners shows that 36% of firms lack qualified financial staff.

The potential for unqualified staff making miscalculations, being late with invoices and accruing fines could result in businesses losing an average of £1,277.

The losses include averages of:

  • £508 due to miscalculations
  • £399 because of unissued invoices
  • £257 due to bounced payments.

Many SMEs do not have dedicated financial staff and instead share financial responsibilities with other roles, with finance and accountancy tasks in particular often being shared between unqualified staff.

The research also found that:

  • 60% of small business owners manage their finances on a day-to-day basis
  • 26% have one or more staff members dedicated to finance and accounts
  • 61% of people managing their business's finances have other company roles.

Mark Farrar, chief executive of the AAT, said:

"What's worrying is that many business owners think that finance and accounting for their business isn't complex enough to need a qualification, and that whoever looks after it can just learn on the job. The fact that businesses are losing money through accounting mistakes shows that this isn't the case. Small businesses are often fragile, especially in their first few years, and every pound matters."

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