A Guide to Choosing the Right Type of Accountant
So, you’ve decided to engage an accountant to help you with your business. Isn’t it just a matter of finding a firm close by and making sure they’re not too expensive?
You could do that, but like with most things in business, it’s best to do your homework first. Will you want to meet up with people on a frequent basis? Do you have any preferences when it comes to accounting software? Do you like to pay a flat charge or pay by the hour?
There’s a lot to think about, as you can see. We’ve put up this handy guide to hiring the proper accountant to assist you in making the best decision possible.
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Having an accountant frees up your time so you can concentrate on your strengths. It also lowers your company’s risk by lowering the possibility of tax, financial reporting, and compliance problems. An accountant can help you save money in a variety of ways, including boosting tax efficiency, enhancing cash flow, and finding finance. He or she can also offer vital general help by providing basic business counsel, discussing your ideas, and stress-testing business strategies.
Some of the services that your accountant can give are listed below.
- Assisting you in paying the correct amount of tax
- Improving the efficiency of taxes
- Financial adherence
- Developing/creating a business plan
- Obtaining finance for expansion
- Management of expansion
- Getting the most out of your company
- Exit strategy
It’s all about the setting.
Prior to the internet age, the majority of firms decided to work with a local accountant. It was simple to catch up, deliver papers, and obtain ad hoc guidance on short notice in this manner.
Those issues are, of course, still important today. If you prefer face-to-face communication, a local accountant is still a feasible option; but, don’t rule out some of the larger national accountancy firms, which can arrange face-to-face meetings at their regional offices.
You now have a plethora of possibilities at your disposal thanks to the digital revolution. So long as you’re willing to communicate electronically or over the phone, you’ll be able to find an accountant that meets your needs.
Suitable for success
Anyone can call themselves an accountant in the United Kingdom, even if they have no qualifications. And if you merely need simple bookkeeping and tax form filling, an unlicensed accountant might suffice.
A chartered accountant with a recognised qualification, on the other hand, is a much superior choice for most organisations. They’ll offer value to your company right away, and you won’t have to worry about hiring someone with more experience as the company grows.
In the United Kingdom, there are three professional accounting qualifications: ACA, ACCA, and CIMA. Each is internationally recognised and ensures that your accountant has a high level of understanding, so search for these credentials right once.
Considerations in the Industry
It’s tempting to believe that any competent accountant with a lot of expertise is the best fit for you. However, it’s worth looking a little farther to locate someone with industry-specific knowledge.
Also, look for an accountant that deals with firms of a similar size to yours on a regular basis. Working with someone who primarily works with the accounts of international organisations, for example, might not be the best choice if your company is a four-person startup. If you’re a contractor, look into the available expert contractor accountants.
As an added plus, knowing a possible accountant’s client list will give you a decent idea of how they’ve helped clients grow and whether they deal with other well-known companies in your industry.
Get on board with the programme
It’s a good idea to find out what software package an accountant uses before hiring them. They’ll almost certainly employ only one type of software, and if you’ve previously set yourself up on another platform, you’ll very certainly run into issues.
Of course, you may find that your prospective accountant is more willing to work with your programme than with their own. You’re in luck if that’s the case. However, keep in mind that they may take longer to deal with unfamiliar software, which could result in a higher bill for you.
Make use of people’s strength.
We’ve already discussed how the internet age has made finding the appropriate accountant easier. However, it’s also a terrific way to receive recommendations from your peers. When attempting to make an informed decision, online forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter are valuable resources.
Attending gatherings hosted by local business forums and chambers of commerce, for example, will help you to influence business owners like yourself. Staying local, as we said before, will limit your options, but it’s an option worth considering.
Don’t forget to bring up the subject of fees.
Fees are calculated in a variety of methods by different accountants. They may be paid on an hourly basis, on a monthly retainer, on a set annual price, or on a percentage of earnings.
None of them are superior than the others, but you may have a choice that is more appropriate for your company. Before taking them on, ask the question so that everyone is on the same page.
It also goes without saying that all fee agreements should be written down and signed before work begins. Any reputable accountant will agree, and if they don’t, you should go away. After all, do you really want to trust them with your money if they’re not careful with contracts?
For any firm, a good accountant is a significant asset. They’ll not only assist you unravel any financial tangles, but they’ll also provide you advice on important business problems. So put in the time, do your homework, and you’ll find an accountant who can help your company thrive.
Accounting questions to ponder
1. What do you charge for your services?
The obvious place to begin is with fees. However, it’s crucial to consider what services are provided and how much value these can add.
2. What services do you provide as part of your fees?
Obtaining an itemised quote from your accountant will make comparing them to other businesses much easier.
3. What makes you stand out from other accountants?
Of course, most accounting firms will try to encourage you to hire them. However, compare their responses to this question to discover who offers something more than a sales pitch.
4. Will you assign me a personal accountant or point of contact?
Even if more than one accountant is involved in the task, it is generally preferable to have a single point of contact with your accounting firm. This ensures consistency, strengthens relationships, and lowers the possibility of errors or missed deadlines.
5. How will we communicate?
When it comes to communication with clients, a good accounting firm should be quite strict. Decide how often you need to communicate and what forms that communication should take, such as face-to-face meetings, phone conversations, or video conferencing. Even if there appears to be nothing to discuss, the firm should hold regular meetings because issues may go undiscovered until they are brought up in dialogue.
6. What topics should we discuss on a regular basis?
Following up on point 5, it’s a good idea to get your accountant’s advice on the issues you should be thinking about on a regular basis. Financial reporting, tax planning, credit control, and cash flow management are all possible issues.
7. Do I need to take any particular precautions because of the nature of my business?
This inquiry will not only help you determine how much industry expertise your accountant has, but it will also be valuable in and of itself. You want an accountant that has a lot of experience with businesses that are very similar to yours, so they are familiar with the dangers and potential.
8. Do you offer any extra services?
As your company grows, you may want to broaden the scope of services provided by your accountants (e.g., growth funding, R&D tax claims, etc.). Determine whether your chosen firm has the appropriate experience ahead of time so you don’t have to change firms as your business grows. It’s also beneficial to learn how your accountants will add value on a daily basis.
9. What are the most typical blunders made by your clients?
This is a fantastic method to take advantage of your accountant’s previous expertise with comparable businesses and avoid the hazards. If they don’t offer you much of a response, it’s possible they don’t have the degree of experience you’re looking for.
10. What steps will you take to ensure that I don’t miss any deadlines?
One of your accountant’s most critical responsibilities is to keep you on the right side of HMRC. Rather than expecting you to recall, an on-the-ball accountant will be ready and glad to remind you of all your commitments.
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