The survey showed that at least half of small businesses lost confidence in accountants and comes just a week after the government published details of its review of audit and accountancy.
The news will come as a further blow to the profession as it tries to rebuild its reputation in the face of calls for wholesale reform.
But the survey also revealed that businesses admit taking advice from their accountants on various issues, such as employment, hinting that the blow is certainly not terminal and the sector may be in the process of recovery.
Howard Rosenburg, managing director of beprofessional, the online professional services provider that carried out the survey, said: ‘There is a lot of turmoil in the market post-Enron and it is making these guys nervous.’
He added that firms serving small businesses were still viewed as ‘trusted advisers’ and are ‘in a position to build on the confidence’ that remains.
The government hopes to publish a consultation document on audit and accountancy early next year.
Many in accountancy hope the government will not create a great upheaval, believing that UK regulation is already well ahead of that in the US.
The UK review will concentrate on what regulatory functions might be needed, who will implement them and how they are funded.
Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt said high standards were crucial for companies and their investors.
The average cost of fraud increased 35.4% to £3.9m in 2016, compared to 2015 data
Harrison Beale & Owen will (HB&O) have a new chairman and managing director at the helm for 2017
Satvir Bungar promoted to managing director in the mergers and acquisitions team
Carolyn Brown appointed as the first head of client legal services practice RSM Legal