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10 tips to finding the right accountant for youNews Article: February 22, 2018 by dwaoaktree Save Money
Last week we looked at the benefits of having a good accountant on your side when it comes to growing and improving your business. Yet how do you know you are choosing a good one? Comparing accountants can be very hard. How do you know what questions you should be asking and what information you need to collect?
Don’t just go with your gut instinct, ask the right questions and find someone you can work with over the long term to deliver ongoing business improvement. Below we have put together a collection of questions and information you need to consider. Once you have the answers to these it will be easier to make an informed decision.
1. Are you comfortable chatting with them
Firstly you need to pick an accountant you’re comfortable with. This is someone you will be working closely with to maximise your business success. You must feel comfortable asking them any question, no matter how trivial it may be and not be afraid to broach any topics with them.
Then you need to ensure that they give you answers you understand. After all, to get value from them, you need to understand what they are telling you and how you can implement it to get the benefits you desire.
Now unfortunately many accountants are great with numbers and not with people, and therefore have a tendency to hide behind jargon. Make sure you choose someone who explains things to you in a way you are comfortable with and understand, look for someone who will explain things in a practical way using plain English. Also ensure that they provide more than just the basics, that they will take the time to explain the potential impact of your figures over the long term, how these will impact the achievement of your goals and what you can do to improve the situation. This information you will be able to gather from a first meeting (usually free) where they can give you a business review.
2. Will you have them on speed dial?
Another important consideration is the level of support and service you want to receive from your accountant. If you just want cheap and cheerful, you’re not going to get much in the way of service or added benefits. If you want someone who is proactive and takes an active role in monitoring and improving your business finances, you will need to ensure the provider is able to offer you this level of service. If you want a partner who will help you to drive your business forward look for accountants who offers regular meetings, unlimited communication etc. Someone who wants a close relationship with you. Sure this may cost a bit more, but from this sort of relationship you are far more likely to make significant improvements to your business that will actually cover the cost of your accounting fees.
Location also plays a big factor here. If you want to catch up with you accountant regularly face to face, then it’s essential you choose someone locally. Many cheap services are actually run off shore, so there will not be the chance for you to sit down in person and discuss your financials.
3. Don’t be tempted to just choose the cheapest accountant. That could cost you more in the long run!
Decide what you want from your accountant, if you want them to be proactive and involved in your business, identify opportunities to grow and improve your business, as well as reduce costs, then you are not going to get this for nothing. However you need to look at the service as an investment in your business. This type of service will actually improve your bottom line and can cover the cost of the accounting fees.
Also consider the level of interaction and support you will be receiving. You may pay a little bit more for a hands on service, but if you just choose a cheap service, you are likely to get hit with a fee every time you pick up the phone to ask a question? Which over the long run can actually cost you more!
4. Fixed fee or hourly rate?
Some accountants will charge you a fixed fee for the work they do. This means you know from the start how much the service will cost you. There are no nasty surprises. This will also allow you to budget better. Other accountants charge you by the hour. You are charged depending on how long it takes them to complete the job. Under this method of charging, there’s no incentive for the accountant to be efficient in completing your work. You also risk receiving a scary bill in the end.
5. Spread the cost of your accounting service
Some accountants offer fixed price monthly package that will allow you to spread the cost of your accounting service over the course of a year. This can make budgeting a bit easier and give you access to services you may not have to money to purchase as a one off payment. Other accountants will simply have access to a service that allows you to spread the cost of the services you choose to take. So make sure you ask about payment option.
6. CPA or CA?
You may be surprised to know that anyone can operate an accounting practice without any formal qualifications at all. Anyone can just call himself a public accountant, and away he goes! That’s why it’s a good idea to choose an accountant who has completed formal education and is a member of a professional body (CA or CPA). Both Chartered Accountants (CA) and Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) are regulated and required to undergo ongoing professional development to ensure their knowledge remains up to date.
7. Your needs
Are you looking for an accountant who will look after either your own or your business’s accounting needs? Some accountants will only do one or the other. Others may look after both.
It may be helpful to create a list of what you want your accountant to help you with. This way, you can meet with them to ask how they can assist you with key areas you have identified.
Because of the complexity of laws, and the wider needs of running a business, you will find that many accountants specialise to offer a deeper level of understanding in a particular field. Make sure to consider a business accountant who is able to assist you in the areas where you require aid.
8. Where to find an accountant
With the development of the internet, it’s very easy to find a huge list of accountants. But this can be misleading. Money can buy a fancy website, but this isn’t necessarily an indication of the service you will receive. A personal referral is still the best way to find reputable and reliable accountants. If this is not an option make sure you meet with several accountants, ask questions and look at the range of services and benefits each firm can offer you.
9. Size of the practice
As a general rule of thumb, big accounting firms deal with big companies. Mainly because their accounts are large and complex. Small businesses are not likely to receive the level of attention they would like from these big firms, so it makes sense to choose a firm who specialises in your size business, after all there are special tax breaks and incentives just for SMEs.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
This is a big decision for you and your business so make sure you ask questions and find out what you want to know. Make a list of what is important to you and what information you need to collect and then ask the accountants you meet. Think of it a bit like an interview, you are interviewing the accountant to work for you. Below we have listed some questions you may like to include in your list.
Potential questions to ask
What professional body are you and your team members with?
What qualifications do you hold in accounting?
Who will be undertaking my financial transactions?
How do you charge for your work?
Do you specialise in any specific field?
Do you have any existing clients I could speak to regarding your service?
Have you won any awards relating to your service?
What can you offer me and my business?
Why should I choose your accounting services?
We hope this helps you find the right accountant to suit your individual needs.
If you would like to have a chat to one of our friendly team and discover more about the proactive service we offer to support you in achieving your business goals contact us today for a Free, no obligation meeting. We can grab a coffee and see if we can assist you improving your business.