An accountant is like a new business partner, they will become a trusted colleague if the right one is selected. It is said that a good accountant can save you time and money while growing your business, and the reverse is certainly true for a bad one. Before choosing an accountant, you need to look for someone that meets your requirements; someone you feel comfortable with, can trust and whose fees are reasonable.
When it comes to choosing, and working with, an accountant, there are certain questions you should ask to make an informed choice. Below is a three-step process you can use as a guide to select your trusted, suitable and professional accountants.
Step 1: Searching for Your Suitable Accountants
Once you have decided the time has come to hire an accountant, you should search for one who matches your needs. To gather as much information as possible on your potential accountants, you can use the following research methods:
- Ask friends, colleagues, and associates whether they can recommend a good accountant
- Use search engines to find accountants’ websites and read thoroughly them to identify those who meet your needs
- Contact your prospective accountants. You can call or email them and see how quickly and professionally they respond
- Visit their office and talk to them and their staff to see who will be best suited to you
Step 2: Choosing Your Potential Accountants
Having done your research, you are now able to choose the right accountants. The following criteria will help on your decision:
- Working as a business partner. An accountant is effectively a business partner, so trust and confidence are paramount. Selecting the wrong accountant will be costly for your business and stressful for you. Charlotte Chung, senior policy advisor at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), emphasises that the key thing to question during the hiring process is how the accountant will add financial value to your company. She says “Look for someone who can act as a business partner. You want them to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of supporting a small business.”
- A good match. The right accountant will have more than just prestige – it’s important they understand your business needs and can offer relevant insight. Based on the research by Experian in 2015, about 59% of start-up directors are running a company for the first time. Therefore, they are often unaware of all their requirements. It is vital to find out whether an accountant works with small business, has expertise in the relevant sector, and whether their fees are an affordable and viable business cost.
- Services and available resources. Not every firm will offer all the services you require. You must ask yourself whether the services offered by a specific firm will serve your purposes, not forgetting to consider your future needs. You should also assess the functionality of the firm and whether it suits your requirements; for instance, you can ask them which accounting software they use.
- Staff specialisms and the firm’s reputation. You need to discover whether your prospective accountancy firm has the relevant experts to understand the needs of your business. For example, do they have specialists to give advice on tax planning, business development and any other consultancy services you require? You should also look into their professional qualifications in the relevant fields and their performance standards in the specific services that you need. Remember to include client testimonials and the firm’s reputation within the industry in your decision making. Do not forget to ask your prospective accountant about their professional authorisation to provide all the services you require.
Step 3: Working with Your Accountants
When you have appointed an accountant for your business, it’s necessary to monitor their ongoing performance, and check the following:
- That you can communicate with your accountant at a time convenient to you without fear of being charged for every call
- That your accountant responds quickly when you have any queries
- That you can speak openly with your accountant, and that they understand your requirements and give honest advice
- That your accountant visits your business and gives constructive and useful advice free of extra charges
- That the accountant charges fixed fees wherever possible for their work
- That the accountant updates you concerning deadlines for filling your accounts within reasonable timeframe
It is worth noting that you should have pleasant, professional, and productive relationship with your accountants, which is defined by ongoing conversation and information sharing, leading to ultimate trust. The way to get the most out of your accountant is to engage in dialogue. The more you share with your trusted and authorised accountant about your business, the more you will get out of the relationship.
Choosing the right accountant is crucial for creating a successful business, where a careful decision is required. The Stan Lee always works in the clients’ best interests. Please contact us to find out how we can add value to your business venture.