Are the Big Four able to meet SMEs needs effectively?


Jon Lisby

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

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Recently a considerable change in the SME market was announced through business news on the internet. The Big Four have entered the SMEs market and hope to extend their current services to this sector. Deloitte UK was the latest of those firms to launch its cloud-based software called Propel and invested £2.5m in this venture which targets the small business market; a move that follows in the steps of KMPG and PwC, who have launched similar products.

This is a considerable but not a big change for those who already target this market.

In an interview given to the International Accounting Bulletin magazine last June, I talked about an issue that I consider essential for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) – the need of a trusted advisor.

These accounting firms promise affordable services for small and medium businesses. KMPG, for example, is advertising its services at a starting price of £125. But is the price the only thing that matters for SMEs?

I believe that before winning this sector with the price, you must build a relationship of trust, and it does not occur just with a specific software, or with highly trained and expert staff. It takes time and it demands that you listen and learn from the SMEs clients. You need to fully understand the business strategy and to really understand the personal strategy of the client.

From my point of view, the big struggle for the Big Four in getting into the SMEs market is that it is already well served by mid-tier accountancy businesses. Deloitte, KMPG, PwC and EY are used to meet the demands of the FTSE 100 / Fortune 500, but to build a relationship of trust with SMEs is a completely different challenge.

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