This can be a key decision for yourself personally and for your business. You need to be comfortable in discussing all aspects of your finances from filing tax returns to long term business needs.
What should you consider in your search for an accountant?
- Is the accountant qualified?
When choosing a doctor or a dentist you may well choose one who is closest to where you live. You may well adopt the same approach when choosing an accountant. However, your doctor or dentist will be qualified and regulated, whereas this may not be true for your accountant.Anyone can call themselves an accountant. You do not need any expertise or qualifications. Find out if the individual is qualified with one of the main accountancy bodies. We are a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), together with Chartered Tax Advisers (CTA).
- What are your business needs?
If you are a small business and you require a degree of handholding, you will not be requiring a large national accountancy practise. Larger practises will have specialist departments who will deal with specific services. This may mean you will deal with several different people, but they will be able to deal with share schemes, reorganisations and corporate finance for a future sale. With a smaller practise you will mainly deal with one individual who will have a good knowledge of your business.
Ideally you should choose an accountant prior to starting up your business. This way, the accountant can choose the right structure for your needs. They can also assist with tax planning. If you need an accountant to file your tax return, don’t look a few days before the filing deadline of 31 January! If you wish to change accountants, perhaps to inject some fresh ideas into your business, it is easier to do this in plenty of time prior to your year end.
There are a number of ways which an accountant may charge fees. This may be a fixed fee or an hourly rate. We prefer to charge a fixed fee for the majority of our work. This way you know what to expect and big shocks are avoided. Hourly rates tend to be charged for one off advice, for example a tax related query or attending meetings with your bank manager.
- Are they up to date?
The world of taxation and accountancy is forever changing. It is important that the accountant keeps up to date with current and future changes. This can be achieved via a range of methods, such as taxation & accountancy magazines, newspapers, H M Revenue and Customs website. We feel that it is vital that we are fully up to date, so we pay for our training needs and attend regular training seminars and training courses.
- Do you like the individual
It is important that you are able to get on with your accountant and you can understand them. It is no good being bombarded with technical jargon and you not having any idea what they are talking about. We pride ourselves in providing advice in a simplistic and understandable way.
- How proactive are they?
Is the accountant only interested in filing your accounts and tax return once a year, or will they keep in touch throughout the year. A proactive accountant will ensure you are kept up to date, to avoid nasty surprises. This may be to inform you of changes in accounting standards or changes in tax legislation.
it is important to keep in touch with your accountant on a regular basis. Keep them informed of any key developments in your business or future ideas. This will enable them to assist you with tax planning and accountancy advice. If you are not happy with your accountant, discuss your issues with them. If it still is not working for you, you can always find another accountant who is able to meet your needs.