Law and accountants survey finds firms predicting gloom

Law and accountancy firms are predicting a gloomy year ahead despite enjoying significant growth in 1996, according to a recent survey.

The survey of about 100 small and medium-sized legal and accountancy firms revealed that, although 62 per cent of respondents experienced growth of more than 10 per cent last year, none of them predict similar increases for 1997.

The survey, carried out by invoice finance company International Factors and the Mail on Sunday, also revealed that 68 per cent of firms were spending more time chasing payment and 78 per cent of respondents said clients were paying later than usual.

Charles Anderson, managing director of International Factors, said: “There is a definite belief among solicitors and accountants that late payment is on the increase.

“All this gives them a good reason to be less optimistic about their growth prospects for this year.”

Last week's election, lack of government spending and government policy and legislation also contributed to the gloomy outlook.

The prospect of a minimum wage was not welcomed, with 81 per cent of respondents saying it would not benefit them. Views on Europe were also negative, with 93 per cent saying business would not benefit from a single European market, and 78 per cent saying that a single currency would not have a positive impact on their businesses.