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Confidence among firms hits the buffers

ACCOUNTING firms are more pessimistic about their prospects than a year ago amid concerns around managing costs and retaining clients.

According to preliminary findings from Aon Risk Solutions’ Business Small Change Index, which tracks business leader outlook and attitudes to risk every six months, the number of firms with a positive outlook has dropped from 59% to 47%.

Business decision makers were less confident about the next six months and the proportion predicting contraction rose from 5% to 12%.

Among accountants’ chief concerns are effectively managing costs, being able to keep existing clients, pricing of existing products and focusing on core products and services.

Chris Lee-Smith, managing director, Aon Risk Solutions Affinity, said: “What was notable with the finance and accounting sectors was a double-whammy – more businesses predicting contraction and fewer predicting growth. In other sectors a decline in confident outlook was matched by more businesses predicting a static future.

“Whether bullish or muted in outlook, the vast majority of business leaders across industry sectors placed scant emphasis on practical risks close to home. For example, less than one in 30 business leaders placed importance on the digital security of their business, relative to other factors – something we will explore further with our next stage of research.”

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