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National have SMEs’ confidence on economy; support needed

30 September 2013

National have SMEs’ confidence on economy, though support needs improvement

Still work to do on the Government report card
• Christchurch strong on National, Wellington on Labour
• Broad mix of cross-party policy favoured for the SME vote

New research released today by MYOB, New Zealand’s largest accounting software provider, shows the National Government enjoys the trust of the majority of SMEs when it comes to the economy; more so than other parties. It also shows there is considerable scope for improving the sector’s satisfaction with Government support.

The MYOB Business Monitor Report found 60% of the 1000+ SME business operators surveyed trust National the most to manage the economy, while only 10% trust Labour the most, 3% trust New Zealand First and 2% trust the Greens. 18% of operators don’t trust any party more than the other to manage the economy.

When it comes to policy management, the clear vote-winning initiatives are those focused on making it easier to meet the numerous compliance needs of running a business. 74% of operators said that in an election they would vote for the party who proposed to simplify taxation rules and red tape, with this ranking at the top of the list. 56% would vote for the party who proposed to simplify PAYE rules and processes, with this ranking second.

MYOB NZ General Manager, Business Division, James Scollay says the new research clearly highlights increasing confidence in an improving economy accompanied by a desire for government to reduce barriers to productivity.

“SMEs’ economic sentiment is clearly good news for the Government and is translating into trust in their current handling of the economy,” he says. “There is still improvement to be made, though, with almost one fifth of all SME operators saying they don’t trust any party over another to manage New Zealand’s economic future.

“Our research findings give clear evidence that SMEs are imploring government to reassess the need for particular regulations and processes involved with operating a business in New Zealand. They want their compliance load reduced wherever possible. This will no doubt assist in increasing their confidence in and satisfaction with Government. While there is of course a need to play by the rules, business owners don’t become their own boss to spend hours each month doing paperwork and ensuring they tick every box in the many compliance checklists.

“We urge Government to consider the impact of making business life a little easier, via reducing red tape, on local business owners’ ability to invest more time in planning, innovating and up-skilling themselves and their teams.”

Christchurch & manufacturers firmly in favour of National
Issues around the management of the Christchurch rebuild, which have been very public over the last three years, have not dented business operators’ confidence in the Government. National enjoys its strongest level of SME support in the city, with 66% of business operators signalling their trust in the Government on the economy. The Greens also has its highest level of support in the city, on 5%. Labour, on the other hand, has its lowest, also on 5%.

In Wellington, Labour enjoys its best performance, with 17% of Wellington SMEs most confident in the party’s economic management. 58% in the Capital hold the most trust in National, and 3% do so with the Greens. In our largest population centre, Auckland, 59% trust National the most, as do 11% Labour, 2% Greens and 2% New Zealand First.

In the sectors, National enjoys its highest level of confidence among manufacturing businesses (68%), possibly reflecting the strong revenue results and expectations of the industry, also uncovered by the research. Nationals’ lowest level of support is amongst transport and warehousing businesses (48%). Labour has its highest level of trust in handling the economy among ‘other’ industries (17%), and lowest in the finance and insurance sector (5%).

Government support report card needs much work
When asked about the support currently shown to SMEs by the Government, the proportion of respondents who were dissatisfied (28%) outweighed those who were satisfied (24%). This is comparable to the results found in MYOB’s research earlier the year, when 29% were dissatisfied and 22% were satisfied.

Christchurch was again the most satisfied in the latest survey, on 37%, with 22% dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction was highest around the regions, with 33% of business operators based outside of the main centres saying they were unhappy with the Government’s current level of support for their business, while just 20% were satisfied.

Dissatisfaction and satisfaction with Government support was evenly split in Auckland, on 24%, while 28% of Wellington business owners were dissatisfied and 25% satisfied. The manufacturing and finance and insurance industries expressed the highest levels of satisfaction, on 29% and 27% respectively, while the trades and agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors were the most dissatisfied, on 31% and 30%.

Policy options open
“Despite showing a clear preference for National for its economic management, SME owners and managers are fairly even-handed when it comes to policy preferences,” says James Scollay.

“In our latest survey, they’ve demonstrated support for policy from both sides of the house, with some key areas noticeably risky for any party. This highlights the benefit to all parties of really listening to local business operators’ needs and addressing them through policies and initiatives that help them be more successful.”

The top three vote-winning initiatives were weighted towards SMEs’ desire to reduce the compliance load:
1. Simplification of provisional tax rules and processes – 74% would vote for the party proposing this
2. Simplification of the PAYE rules and processes – 56%
3. Development of one-stop online access to all government advice and support for business – 55%

The top three vote-losing initiatives were related to significant tax policy and superannuation:
1. Introduction of a Capital Gains Tax – 64% would vote against the party proposing this
2. Moves to raise the superannuation entitlement age – 52%
3. Extension of the fringe benefit tax to productivity tools such as mobile communication devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops – 46%

Other policy favourites included tighter controls on foreign purchases of New Zealand land and infrastructure, which was supported by 54% and opposed by 14%, and Government-backed loans for small business start-ups, which was supported by 52% and opposed by just 6%.

“New Zealand’s business community is clearly keen for money that’s made in the country to stay in the country where possible, and for more funding to be provided to support the newest members of the business community,” says James Scollay.

Dear Government: Be knowledgeable and make it simple
The MYOB Business Monitor also asked how business operators liked to engage with Government, when dealing with it for business. The answer was apparent: almost half (47%) said their contacts should be knowledgeable, providing information that is accurate, reliable and easy to follow. 36% wanted simplicity, in terms of understanding what they are required to do, and 31% wanted their problem resolved first time, without being handed off elsewhere.

“The research findings provide a strong indication of how the SME community want to interact with Government,” says James Scollay. “They want more focus on cutting red tape and simplifying key compliance activities – with attentive support enabling them to get the right answer to their questions, first time.”

For MYOB product information, research results, business tips, discussions, customer service and more visit the MYOB Business Monitor site, The Pulse blog, MYOB Twitter, MYOB Facebook or visit our recently updated MYOB New Zealand YouTube Channel.

About the MYOB Business Monitor
The MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of 1,000+ New Zealand small and medium business owners and managers, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. It has run since 2009, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton. This most recent survey ran late January/early February 2013. The Monitor researches business performance and attitudes in areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline, technology usage and the government. The weighting of respondents by both geographical location and sector is based on overall market proportions as established by Statistics New Zealand and is drawn from an independent survey group, which includes both MYOB clients and non-clients.

About MYOB New Zealand
Established in 1991, MYOB is New Zealand’s largest business management solutions provider. It makes life easier for over 1.2 million businesses across New Zealand and Australia, around one quarter of which are New Zealand based. The company provides support via many client service channels including a network of over 20,000 accounting firms, bookkeepers and other consultants. MYOB’s solutions simplify accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more, for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and now spends more than NZ$35 million annually on R&D. In 2013, MYOB expanded its offerings with the acquisition of accounting solutions provider BankLink. Visit myob.co.nz.

ENDS

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