Choosing An Accountant
Choosing an accountant for your business or personal needs is an important decision. There are many good and bad accountants out there, Chartered and Non-Chartered.
In our twenty plus year’s business and accountancy experience we have often found the best accountant is the one who doesn’t just quote legislation or get the tax calculations correct to the penny, but the one who presents options and offers practical recommendations in language that the client can understand.
We have therefore produced the following information to help you choose and get the most from your accountant…
Fees and Charges. Are their fees and charges reasonable, make sure you are getting a good deal?
Fixed Fees. Always ask your accountant for a fixed fee cost for the work, most work can be undertaken in this way so get a fixed quote for their services.
Unauthorised charges: Don’t accept them, always agree with your accountant that they will not undertake any work without first agreeing it with you in writing.
Do they listens to you? Over the years we have encountered many professional accountants from some of the top firms, however they actually do not listen to what their client’s needs are. I am not always sure why this is the case may be they are not really interested, don’t understand business or are just like the sound of their own voice either way, these are not good accountants.
Do they provide you with choices? For us this is possible one of the most important factors of a good accountant… it shows that they understand your business and you, and that they have a wider depth of up to date commercial knowledge. We call this the “What If”… put simply What If I do this… how will it affect me and my business… and is there a better way I can do it?
Do they operate an open door policy? Can you contact them whenever you need to? Can you call in to their offices just for a coffee and a chat and most importantly can you do all this without incurring charges?
Who will look after you? Find out who will look after you, many firms partners pass general accountancy work off to junior staff members and just sign off on the finished work. This is to common practice but it is certainly not good practice. Choose an accountant that keeps abreast of YOUR business position.
We are also aware of reputable firms contracting work to less expensive practices and even a few firms now outsourcing to India and Pakistan. Be aware of who is seeing your data and personal information.
Commercial Awareness. Talk to them about your business and your ideas and judge how they react, see if they are able to offer any worthwhile recommendations this will often indicate how commercially aware they really are. Just because they are an accountant, does not mean they are good at business.
Ask about tax savings. Based on your discussions ask what tax saving suggestions they can make, positive responses will show a good tax awareness and often indicates an accountant who is pro-actively and able to come up with new ideas.
Quick Responses. Make an enquiry via email and see how quickly they respond. If they are not fast to respond now when trying to get your business, what will they be like when they act for you?
What services do they offer? Ask about their service portfolio and confirm they are proficient in delivering the services you will require going forward. Ask if they look after other clients with similar requirements in the same area of business.
Existing Clients. Do they have testimonials on their website or brochures? If not ask to speak with some of their clients to see what they say about them.
Networking. A good accountant is often the trusted centre pin for many businesses and individuals ask if they offer any networking facilities between other clients and local businesses.
Finally. Don’t forget you are the most important piece of the jigsaw so decide what is crucial to you, choose an accountant that matches your needs and who you feel comfortable with.