How to choose an accountant

December 14, 2016 | Posted by Sonal Agarwal | Accounting, Business Advice, Taxation, Whitepapers,

how to choose an accountant

If you are currently choosing an accountant for your business, you may be struggling. You have probably looked at several accountancy websites, and feel that every company seems the same.

On that basis, you could be forgiven for making your decision based on price. But before you do, think about exactly what it is you want…

If you just want someone to do your annual accounts, and you’re not really bothered about the outcome, then your choice is not so important.

But we know, from the relationship we have with our clients, very few small business owners really want that approach to their business.

Here are some things for you to consider:

  • Services – do the accountants you have shortlisted all offer the services you need? For example, not all accountants offer tax advice, support for HMRC queries or payroll services.
  • Real time information – are cloud based accounts important to you, so you can access your information from anywhere? If so, you will want an accountancy practice that is strong in that area.
  • Qualification- anyone can use the designation accountant in the UK. Make sure your accountant is a member of a professional body. A governing body regulates the conduct of its members and ensures highest level of service.
  • Monthly billing – do you want to pay your accountant in one lump after your year end, or have regular monthly bills to help you budget?
  • Experience – do you want an accountant who has strong knowledge of small business challenges? Are they a small company themselves? Do they have expertise in your sector? Will they be able to guide you to obtain finance, structure employee pay, make investment decision? This may not be important to you now, but is certainly worth thinking about.
  • Advice – would you prefer to be invoiced for every conversation you have with the accountant, or would you like a service where some time is available regularly for you to seek help?
  • Meetings – do you want to see your accountant once a year, to go through your year end accounts? Or would you prefer to hear from them more often, to check in and make sure you are making the most of tax efficiencies and get advice to maintain growth.
  • Exit clause – if you should decide the accountant you have chosen is not a good fit after all, will you have to pay any penalties? Recently, a prospective client told us they were required to give 3 months of notice and pay a penalty to leave their existing practice. It is unusual, but not unheard of, so make sure you check the small print.

Ultimately, the relationship with your accountant is a personal one. It is based on personalities, and you will get the most from that relationship if you gel with your accountant. So, make sure you have a face to face meeting before appointing them, to make sure you are a good fit for each other.

Don’t be afraid to evaluate that relationship on an ongoing basis. Are they proactive and reach out to you, or do they wait for you to call them? Is the work they deliver good quality? Do you feel they are helping you to make the best financial decisions for your business?

In an ideal world, you would have appointed your accountant ahead of setting up your business, so it is set up correctly for you.

However, it is not difficult to change accountants, and it is the duty of your previous accountant to pass over all the information to your new one. Don’t suffer in silence because you feel it is too difficult to change, or awkward. You are the client and you deserve the best.

If you would like to learn more about how we can work with you, please contact us on 01256 406 601.

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