Top tips on choosing an accountant
Whether you’re starting out, or already an established business, choosing the right accountant can be the difference between having a trusted adviser to support your business decisions throughout the year, versus an annual number-cruncher that simply does the basics.
But how do you know who to work with when there is so much choice? And what should you look out for?
Everyone’s needs are different and it’s important to find an adviser that’s right for you and your business. To help you get the support you need, these are our top tips to consider when choosing an accountant:
Partnership: The first thing is about mindset. Think about the relationship as a partnership, where you are working together to get the most out of your business. This will help to narrow down your search to people who you feel you can work with on a long-term basis. Set up an initial meeting with one or more firms to find out more about the firm and to meet the team before you decide whether to work with them.
Recommendation: Ask colleagues, friends and family for recommendations. As every business has different needs, ask for examples of the services they have provided and how proactive the firms are. Supplement this with your own research, including finding out whether the recommended firms have relevant experience in your industry, as well as what is included in any price or services quoted.
Expertise: Check credentials, such as professional qualifications from the Institute of Chartered Accountants (either ICAEW or ICAS), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Ask questions about how firms support similar businesses to your own, and if you can access specialists, such VAT, HR or Payroll. Experienced and proactive accountants are more likely to take a holistic view of your business and make recommendations that will help take your business to the next level.
Flexibility and fees: Depending on the scale of your business, you may only require minimal support initially, but it’s good to have an accountant which can continue to support you effectively as your business grows.
Fixed fees make it easier to budget, but check how flexible they are about different services – are services tailored to meet your needs or do you have to fit into a standard package? Ask for a clear outline of what is covered, what sort of support you can expect and whether you will be charged extra for telephone or email advice.
Customer service: While many accountants offer a similar service on paper, the biggest difference between firms often comes down to their approach to customer service. You will get a good indication through the initial contact with a firm, and through recommendations, but it’s also worth checking a firm’s website for testimonials or even asking to speak to a couple of existing customers before making your move.
At HB&O we focus on building relationships with our clients, providing tailored support so you get the best advice for you and your business. Whatever stage you are at, our flexible approach gives you access to a full range of specialist expertise, as and when you need it.
If you would like to find out more about working with us, please email me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01926 422292.