According to the survey, SMPs face many and varied challenges, but the intensity of the challenge is broadly the same across all practice sizes. More than 70% of respondents rate six challenges as having a moderate, high, or very high impact. One can group them in three different categories: 1) Market position—attracting new clients (78%) and differentiating from competition (74%); 2) Profit instability—experiencing pressure to lower fees (71%) and rising costs (76%); and 3) Keeping up to date—keeping up with technology (72%) and keeping up with new regulation and standards (74%).
The most pressing challenge SMPs face is that of attracting new clients (47% of respondents said this was a high or very high challenge). While less of a challenge than the prior year, probably due to the improved performance of the economy, it still ranks as a major challenge for almost half of all SMPs, regardless of size.
The survey reveals that only 13% of SMPs’ clients have no international activities. As many as 74% are involved in import or export of goods or services, and 33% or them have foreign owners or investors. These results are not surprising given the rapidly increasing extent and depth of globalization of business. As expected, larger practices among the SMP spectrum report having a higher percentage of clients with multiple types of international activities, especially the more sophisticated activities. For example, 45% of the largest SMPs (21 or more partners and staff) report having clients with part of their business infrastructure or operations in one or more foreign countries. In comparison, only 15% of sole practitioners say their clients are part of international structures.
International activities of SME clients by size of practice
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