How to choose a good accountant?

British Accountancy Awards Finalist
28th June 2019
Running your business from home
2nd September 2019
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How to choose a good accountant?

Accountant

Choosing the right accountant is an important decision that any business cannot afford to get it wrong.  A good accountant can save you time and will be experienced in helping you grow the business. 

Here are some handy tips which should help you sort the wheat from the chaff:

  • Try to find an accountant before starting the business up. Your accountant will be able to get the structure of the business right from the start. A good accountant will not only help you with the business plan they will also help planning the tax for the future.
  • If you need an accountant just for your personal accounts; I recommend you not to look two days before the tax return deadline. Give yourself a fighting chance to find a good one before January 31st.
  • Accountants differ widely in qualifications, skills experience and friendliness. Therefore it is important that when entering into a business relationship they have the highest achievements and suit your needs.
  • Look at what your business actually needs, if you are a small business such as a sole trader or a partnership, and then don’t opt into a practice that specialises into multi-nationals. Try and make a list of your needs and find an accountant that ticks you list.
  • You need to be able to look into the fees they are charging. If they are charging on an hourly rate basis I would avoid those at all circumstances. The best way is to go for a fixed fee so you know what you are getting and at what price; at least you will not get a surprise when the bill arrives at the end of the year.
  • It is important that you build a business relationship with the firm as they will not only be preparing the accounts they will also be advising you on vital information. You should be comfortable enough about your finances as it is not unprofessional to be somewhat instinctive about your decision.
  • The accountants you choose must be responsive. Make sure they are willing to deal with all your queries. You want the accountant to be knowledgeable and not somebody who just does the tax return and annual accounts.
  • A good accountant will have good communication skills and will want to speak to you on a regular basis.
  • Smaller firms tend to be part of a national network of accountants which helps them plug their knowledge gaps as well as ensuring they have enough cover in the office.
  • Choosing an accountant does not have to be pot- luck. You must have a strategy that you need to follow and not just pick the first person you come across as all accountants are not equal.

How to choose a right accountant?

When choosing a right accountant it is important to consider many aspects and then make a final decision.  Here is a brief summary of assessing a good accountant.

  • Qualification

Ensure that your accountant has been properly qualified and has a practicing licence.

  • Experience

You are better off with the accountant who has good experience in your business sector and also has a good experience in general because you will depend on the advice that you receive in managing your business.

  • Takes time to understand your business

A good accountant will always try to understand your business first before giving any advice.  Generally a good accountant will always ask you to meet personally and quote afterwards.  During the meeting a good accountant will try and understand your business structure [e.g. sole trader, partnership, Limited company etc.], your product or services.

All practicing accountant will need to verify your identity therefore they will ask a copy of your passport [or driving licence] and proof of address e.g. a recent utility bill.

  • Prompt and proactive

A good accountant will respond to your call, emails and letters promptly.  The good accountant will know all your deadlines for vat, tax, payroll, accounts etc. and will have systems in place to send regular reminders. 

  • Fees are fair and value for money

Clarify with your accountant if the fees include additional charges for meeting, telephone calls etc. during the year.  Many businesses do not realise that the cheaper fees initially can exclude many other additional charges which can be hidden.

  • Ask few questions

Sometimes the accountant is selected purely on the basis of fees.  As a client you could ask about the process of preparing your account. 

  • who will prepare the accounts?
  • will the information be passed to another sub-contractor who will do the majority of the work?
  • who will do the final accountant and tax return?
  • how will the accountant save your tax?
  • Can you get a reference to talk to the firm’s existing client?

To find out more about choosing a good accountant contact us at Sterling Finance on 0161 339 4989 or email info@sterlingfinance.net.