Small and Medium sized companies (SMEs) in the North West region are failing to employ qualified finance employees, according to new research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

The AAT found that SMEs in the North West alone are losing approximately £950 million due to employing unqualified finance staff.

The AAT found that 38% of SMEs have unqualified finance staff and as a result have lost an average of £1,868 due to problems such as tax miscalculations, fines and unpaid invoices.

Think about qualifications for staff

The AAT released these figures in order to encourage British SMEs to consider the importance of employing staff with sufficient qualifications.

The research demonstrated that firms which require staff to cover a number of roles, including finance and accountancy, often employ individuals with insufficient qualifications and experience.

Chief Executive at AAT, Mark Farrar, added that while running an SME does involve “juggling a lot of different priorities” it is important to invest in qualified members of staff who are up to the job.

He said that what is most worrying about these figures is that many SME employers do not believe finance and accountancy is important enough to warrant hiring someone with sufficient qualifications.

Ensuring development of finance employees

Small businesses are often “fragile” in their first few years and as a result “every penny counts”, Farrar said.

He also acknowledged that while cost is at the forefront of reasoning behind employers’ decisions not to invest in individuals with the desired qualifications – who may demand higher salaries – this was essentially buying into a false economy.

Accreditations can actually be flexible and cost effective to businesses while having fully-qualified staff in financial positions will reduce the chance of losing any money through common issues

Fines, late payments and incorrect invoices are all mistakes which can be easily reduced or avoided by hiring suitable candidates, thus “making the business as profitable as possible” he said.

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