Learn to love your accountant, Milton Keynes-based boffin tells businesses

Dr Michael Lucas of the OU
Dr Michael Lucas of the OU

Business owners are missing a trick by not trusting their accountant with most intimate commercial details, says a Milton Keynes based university expert.

Dr Mike Lucas of the Open University’s Business School has found in a study that some entrepreneurs and small businesses may be holding themselves back by refusing to share information with their accountants who they sometimes regard as little more than “bean counters”.

Dr Lucas said: “Businesses should learn to trust their accountants for their own good.”

He found there is a tendencu to make decisions without adequate financial information or analysis and time and opportunities are being wasted because some owner-managers don’t want anyone else to know their business.

The report, funded by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and compiled by Dr Michael Lucas of the Open University along with Professor Malcolm Prowle and Glynn Lowth, from Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University urges accountants to improve their image by refuting bean counter accusations and promoting themselves in business partnering roles.

The authors also call for further research into the way small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reach critical decisions and into the psychological profile of executives, particularly owner managers.

Dr Lucas said: “While most business owners are good at using accounting services for monitoring cash flow and costs they do not always appreciate that management accountants can add a great deal to decision making in the management of the business. Accountants were sometimes regarded as little more than bean counters, rather than potentially having a business partnering role where they can advise and improve efficiency

“Some entrepreneurs, in particular, are reluctant to employ management accountants, expressing a desire to maintain control and have exclusive access to information they consider sensitive. This could lead to higher costs in terms of management time which is turn can put constraints in time spent in growing the business.”

Dr Lucas is senior lecturer in accounting at the Open University Business School, Professor Prowle is professor of business performance at Nottingham Business School and Mr Lowth, who is a former President of CIMA, is a visiting fellow at the Nottingham business school.