Small and medium businesses in the North West are leaking £950m due to unqualified finance staff, according to the Association of Accounting Technicians.
The AAT has found more than a third of people responsible for finances in small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the North West do not have a relevant qualification (38 per cent).
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.Mark Farrar
As a result of not having qualified finance staff, every SME in the region could have lost an average of £1,868 due to issues such as tax miscalculations, unpaid invoices and fines – the equivalent of almost £950 million across the North West.
AAT is releasing the figures to highlight the risk of SMEs leaking money, and encourage them to think about qualifications for their staff.
The research showed that in SMEs where staff have to cover a number of roles, finance and accountancy tasks are often being shared out between staff who do not have the qualifications to ensure they are done correctly.
Mark Farrar, chief executive of AAT, the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: “Running a small business always involves juggling a lot of different priorities.
“With so much to think about, investing in a qualified member of staff to look after finance and accounting is often seen as a big step. 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.
“Cost is perceived as a barrier to business owners when it comes to finance and accounting qualifications, but it shouldn’t have to be. Qualifications can be very flexible and cost-effective, meaning that support for small businesses is more accessible than people might think. Having qualified staff reduces the chances of losing money through issues like late-payment fines and incorrect invoices, making the business as profitable as possible.”