IPA shines light on SME mental health
The struggle that many small businesses face in striving to survive is something the Institute of Public Accountants hopes to address as it takes a lead role on mental health.
Speaking to hundreds of delegates at the World Congress of Accountants in Sydney, IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said its research points to the biggest stress points for small business owners, usually built around the fact they are striving to survive.
“We were openly told real truths when we conducted our study over a 12-month period, such as: ‘I am doing well, but my business is killing me – I’m never there for my family; I went to a client with bandages on her wrists and I took her to the hospital to get professional help; I was told by a client that he couldn’t manage anymore, the phone call ended and I haven’t been able to contact him again’,” Mr Conway said.
“As a profession, we cannot ignore our social responsibility. That does not mean we are the fixers but more the concierge service; that when we recognise our small business clients in stress, we guide them to ensure professional assistance and solutions are achievable.”
Mr Conway pointed to some of the IPA’s early studies that show that when a small business client engages with their accountant, 95 per cent of them feel a relief in their stress levels.
“We also know that people will turn to their accountant for advice well beyond compliance and audit requirements; this is the power of trust that is divested to us, and one which we must respect and live up to,” he said.
“The real statistics are unfathomable, when over 1 million people commit suicide each year; one every 40 seconds globally and estimated to grow to 1.5 million each year by 2020; only two years away.
“Look at the statistics; they speak for themselves. Simply, the risk is too great – we cannot ignore our social value or responsibility. Collaboratively, we must agree on resourcing the appropriate tools and systems that enable us.
“As a profession, it is beyond time that we have a mature and robust discussion about this dilemma that faces our world. Today, I am asking the profession to start this global discussion.”