How To Select the Right Accountant
Whether you have an established business, have just started a business or are still at the planning stage, the choice of accountant is an important decision. For a new company, busy with all the excitement of getting up and running, selecting an accountant may not seem to be a top priority but bringing an accountant on board early can help with setting up a Limited Company and structuring the business to be tax efficient.
Whatever stage you are at, it is essential that you take time to select an accountant that is right for you and your business and not just rush into a decision as your year-end approaches. And if you think you can manage without an accountant, maybe because you are a “one-man band” or a small consultancy business, experience tells us that you will soon realise just how time-consuming preparing accounts and filing tax returns can be when it is not something you are experienced in. And of course that is only part of the accountancy service you would receive from a professional, which would also include tax saving advice, advice about expenses and a range of other services depending on your business and, naturally, your budget.
So just how do you select the right accountant? You could do an internet search, phone a few local companies or ask for personal recommendations from friends and colleagues but that does not necessarily help you to find the accountant right for your business. Instead think first about what is important to you as a business owner, then consider the following factors and ask appropriate questions of any potential accountants:
- Does the firm handle clients with similar businesses, in terms of size and nature of business? Ideally your accountant should have experience of a range of business types and sizes (after all, your business may grow rapidly).
- Will you be allocated a specific person to handle your accounting affairs, someone whom you can get to know and who can get to know your business? Some large accounting firms do not assign your business to a dedicated accountant so there is little opportunity to build a good working relationship based on trust.
- Is the accountant local? It is possible to work with an accountant in another part of the country but unless this saves you a significant amount of money a local person who you can meet face-to-face is often a better option than relying on emails and telephone calls.
- What qualifications does the accountant hold who will be responsible for your accounts and tax affairs? An experienced, qualified accountant is essential for a complex business although a part-qualified accountant with good experience can be sufficient for a small, straightforward company and will be more cost-effective.
- How much will it cost and are there fixed fee accounting options? The cost of accounting services will, naturally, be a factor in your decision and it is often easier, particularly for a startup company, to budget more easily with a fixed fee option.
- Is there more than one accountant working at the practice? Choosing a firm with more than one accountant avoids the risk of there being no one to handle your affairs should the accountant become ill or be away when you need advice.