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Compliance and automation the big election issues for SMBs

19 Sep 2017

A survey gauging business sentiment has found the cost and complexity of compliance is a key issue for businesses in the lead-up to the election.   

The What do you Reckon election survey, conducted by cloud accounting software company Reckon NZ, also found the majority of businesses had embraced the change automation and artificial intelligence was bringing – however, the challenge is making it work for them. 

Reckon surveyed 1500 of its clients across a number of different industries – from accounting and bookkeeping through to construction and IT – to find out the key business issues impacting on them in the lead-up to the election.

While the majority said it was easy to run a business in New Zealand (75%), when asked if the current government had done enough to reduce the cost and complexity of compliance, a third of respondents believed it had not done enough.

Almost half said the government had done “somewhat” enough, and a further 22% believed the government had done “enough” or “a lot” to reduce cost and complexity around compliance.

Grant Linton, Reckon accountant group general manager, says a quarter of those surveyed believed it was not easy to run a business in New Zealand.

“The most common reason was the cost of compliance and how it takes the focus away from core business. One respondent gave the example of ‘health and safety overkill’ as being a compliance cost which hit companies particularly hard,” he says.

Other factors included the challenge of finding qualified staff, and difficulty when needing to dismiss staff.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said technological advancements and the “rise of the robots” was impacting on their business and the roles their staff will play now and in the future.

“It was clear the majority of businesses were moving with the times and embracing the concept of automation,” says Linton.

“The challenge is making it work for them with many companies needing support through this transition or risk being left behind and unable to compete.”

Catie Cotcher, Reckon business group general manager, says the single most important election issue affecting businesses was varied – and ranged from compliance issues, tax, and attracting the right staff, through to transport issues, the cost of living, and refocusing on the regions. 

“A number of respondents said there needed to be a shift of investment back into the regions to take the pressure off Auckland infrastructure and drive regional economies,” she says.

According to those surveyed the general state of business in New Zealand was positive, however, the majority said it could be better with a strong emphasis on the importance of innovation.  

“Business sentiment was very positive,” says Cotcher.

“However, there was a healthy awareness about the need to diversify and invest in research and development for future growth, rather than just continuing to grow incrementally in traditionally strong industries, and by pushing commodity products.”

She also says there were warnings from some respondents that while many businesses were thriving others were not growing and adapting as they needed to and there is “a core” that was struggling.

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