Professional services oil the wheels of small business

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Readers of Inside Small Business are aware of the importance of SMEs to the growth of Australia’s economy, employment and job creation. Businesses with fewer than 20 people account for roughly 45 per cent of private sector employment, and in total, enterprises with fewer than 200 people employ some 70 per cent of Australians.

Less understood is the vital role that quality professional advice plays in the success of small business. Research shows professional advice, like that provided by accountants and lawyers, contributes to business confidence, growth and performance. This connection includes access to support networks, the ability to act on the advice, and familiarity between the professional adviser, the business and its owners.  Conversely, poor advice is detrimental to business outcomes.

A world first

Recognising the important relationships between small-medium businesses and their professional advisers, the 2017 NAB Professional Services Awards are a world first.

The key aim of these Awards is to help small-medium business and professional services advisers do better business – by celebrating excellence of Australian professional services firms and helping clients to choose their advisers.

Facts about the Professional Services Awards

Australian law, accounting, bookkeeping and conveyancing firms with annual revenue less than $30m were eligible to enter. Official figures indicate there are about 20,000 such firms, including solo-practitioners, making it extremely difficult for small business owners to choose their providers.

Unlike other awards, which are judged by a panel of experts or peers, the Professional Services Awards are judged through a survey of those who really matter – the small-medium business owners and individuals who are the clients of these firms.

FirmChecker, an Australian-owned independent researcher, conducted the online survey during October and November, gathering opinions of actual users of professional services firms. Respondents rated firms’ performance in a range of criteria including quality, service, value for money and price. Both technological and human measures were implemented to prevent gaming of the survey.

FirmChecker is grateful to NAB, the principal partner of the 2017 Professional Services Awards, and a dozen other partners, including four professional associations, who helped bring the Awards to the attention of the many thousands of eligible firms.

Benefits to the winners and runners-up

In the crowded, super-competitive market place of professional services, every firm is challenged in maintaining a pipeline of work, explaining its fees, and differentiating itself.

Being a Winner or Runner-up of a Professional Services Award provides a major boost to staff morale, and in the marketplace the firm’s brand is amplified – signalling quality and value to clients and referrers, and attracting the best talent.

The accompanying graphic shows Winners and Runner-ups of the 2017 Professional Services Awards across all four profession categories. In law and accounting the categories are further spilt into private clients and business clients to recognise the distinctive specialisations within these streams.

Newspaper articles on national winners, authorised certificates, e-signatures and logos for all winners and runners-up are available for firms to use in celebrating their excellence.

Donation to World Vision

To acknowledge the contribution of the many thousands of clients who took the trouble to rate their professional services firm, FirmChecker has made a donation to World Vision.

Looking forward to 2018

FirmChecker congratulates the 2017 Winners, Runners-up and Finalists on their outstanding contribution to small business and clients’ private matters.

The great success of the 2017 Awards means all firms can look forward to entering the 2018 Professional Services Awards. These Awards are client-judged, so if you think your professional advisers should enter, let them know!

Ben Farrow, Executive Director, FirmChecker

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