As consumers have started to enjoy better financial services from accelerated digitisation, business owners are starting to expect the same full-suite of “anytime-anywhere” services from their service providers and financial institutions.

However, over half of all surveyed companies provide neither funding advisory nor cash flow forecasting services, which will be essential to attract and retain SMB customers – and to compete with fintech firms that do.

These are among the findings from ForwardAI’s whitepaper titled “Rising small business expectations and the evolving roles of financial service providers,” which focuses on modern, technology-enabled services that accountants, banking and financial service providers offer to their clients across North America

Key highlights from the newly released whitepaper include:

  • Financial firms across industries need to catch up: 52% of firms are not providing cash flow forecasting or funding advisory services; and only one in five firms (19%) provide both funding advisory and cash flow forecasting services.
  • Bookkeepers, accountants, and accounting firms are ahead of the curve: Among accountants that provide funding advisory, over 75% of respondents also offer cash flow forecasting services for their clients, compared to 49% of bankers, financial planning, and financial service providers.
  • Cash flow forecasting is crucial, but not everyone is doing it: Over 48% of accountants offer this service, while the banking, financial planning and services industry (34%), and the fraud, insurance and business valuation industry (32.6%) lag in adopting it.
  • Geography plays a role in adopting modern technologies: While more Canadian companies provide funding advisory, fewer provide cash flow services or utilise cloud-based accounting software compared to the US across all industries. The US has a significantly higher cloud-based accounting software utilisation rate of 55% against Canada’s 44%

“Small business clients are increasingly expecting full-suite service offerings from their financial services firms – and our survey has shown that the majority of companies has yet to adopt modern technologies,” says Nick Chandi, CEO and co-founder of ForwardAI.

“Offering cash flow forecasting, funding advisory services, and promoting cloud-accounting software not only enhances a small business’s financial health and accounting efficiency but opens the door for companies to offer their clients personalized solutions to make their businesses more competitive while meeting customer demands.”