Small biz owners prefer accountants over advisors

By Staff | October 13, 2015 | Last updated on October 13, 2015
2 min read

If small business owners make up a large part of your book, count yourself lucky — you specialize in a tough crowd.

The 2015 Manulife Small Business Research Report has found that small business owners are more likely to work with accountants than advisors: 76% of entrepreneurs, 85% of professionals (i.e., providers of regulated services, such as doctors and engineers) and 71% of other small business owners consult chartered accountants, but only 52% of entrepreneurs, 65% of professionals and 53% of other small business owners consult financial advisors.

And, when it comes to cash flow specifically, 35% of entrepreneurs and 27% of professionals and small business owners consider their accountants their primary advisors, while only 8% of entrepreneurs, 13% of professionals and 12% of other small business owners say financial advisors are their primary advisors.

Read: Breakdown of election promises for biz owners

Why the disparity? In the case of professionals, they “tend to see themselves as more educated. That means that many will initially see financial advisors as salespeople,” John Sabourin, vice-president of Selectpath Benefits and Financial Inc., says in the report. “That’s also why professionals tend to be more comfortable working with chartered accountants, whom they perceive to be professionals more like themselves.” As for entrepreneurs, says Sabourin, “Many are self-made and don’t buy into the idea that book-smart necessarily means smart in the ways that count for them. In some cases they put more value on street smart.”

Once small business owners become clients, they tend to listen. Two-thirds of entrepreneurs and small business owners and three-quarters of professionals say they’ll follow recommendations because “an advisor knows their area of expertise better than me.” But they’re still skeptical: almost nine in 10 owners say they will “do their own own homework” to confirm recommendations.

Read: Is it time for small biz owners to draw dividends?

Kandy Cantwell, managing partner of Montridge Financial Group in Vancouver, B.C., suggests in the report that advisors who specialize in business owners are going about things correctly. “You are able to do greater storytelling when you specialize in a market. You bring a lot more to the table, and clients see you in a different light,” she says. “You will pick up on key questions and drivers of market trends, and can focus your prospecting, rather than chasing everybody with every product.”

To read the full report, go here.

Disclosure: Rogers Media, which owns, published this report in partnership with Manulife. staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.