How to Choose and Get the Most from Your Accountant
Choosing an accountant is an important decision and you need to find one that matches your needs, you feel comfortable with, can trust and whose fee levels are fair.
We've produced the following checklist to help you choose and get the most from your accountant...
- Call Whenever You Need. A good accountant will be available when you need them for help and advice, they also won't charge you every time you speak on the phone.
- Understanding. It's important to have an accountant you can speak to openly and honestly, someone who understands your business and shares in your vision. Avoid accountants who only speak in jargon.
- Commercial Awareness. Do they understand your business? Do they have clients in similar industries? Ask them questions about your area of business and see what they know.
- Will Visit You. Ask them if they will visit you for an initial consultation, free of charge. A good accountant will go the extra mile for you.
- Gives Tax Ideas. Ask them what tax ideas they have for you. You want an accountant who will pro-actively come up with regular new ideas.
- Prepare for Meetings. Before any meeting ensure there is an agenda. This allows you to make a list of all the things you want to discuss with the accountant, send it beforehand to enable them to provide answers on the day.
- Use of Email. In this day and age, most companies make use of email communication. Make sure you choose an accountant who doesn't fear technology, but uses it to their advantage.
- Fixed Fees. Make sure you get a fixed fee wherever possible for your work. If not, arrange a fee limit the accountant won't go beyond.
- View their Website. Is it responsive? Up to date? Does it give clear insight to who they are and what they offer? A good website should be clear, easy to navigate and feature testimonials from existing clients, it's your number one research tool.
- Quick Response. How quick are they at getting back to you? If they want your business and make you wait, imagine what they will be like once they have it.
- Who Will You Deal With? This is a fairly overlooked question and yet is one of the most important, you don't want to be passed around. A good accountant will take time getting to know you so they are able to give you the best advice and guidance. The wrong accountant will make you feel like a burden.
- What Services are Offered? Are they full service or bespoke? If you move into other areas of business or expand will they be able to accommodate you? While you may not currently require audit work it's good to know your accountant specialises in that area if needed.
- Fixed Timescales. Agree fixed timescales for completion of work. If they can't or are vague in their delivery they may not be the best fit.
- Existing Clients. While everyone can say they're the best at what they do, sometimes it's better to do your own research. Speak to existing clients, not just the ones on the website.
- Engagement Letter. Ask for a copy of their engagement letter is everything you need included? If so, make them stick to it.
- Listen or Talk and Take Action? A good accountant will take interest in you and your business, providing insight and guidance where needed. They should be a sounding board for your ideas. If you find yourself repeating things, chasing them up or feeling like you're not being heard, maybe it's time to switch things up.