5 Top Tips for Choosing an Accountant

If you’ve just started out in business, or if you’ve been running for a while and are looking for a change, your accountant can be a valuable asset for you.

At the basic end, they can work to free up your time by handling your bookkeeping and tax returns, and at the other end, they can provide valuable advice on how your business can save money and reclaim expenses.

If you have the right accountant in place, you can start to make financial decisions that will help your business grow and maintain its growth for years to come. If you need help choosing which accountant is right for you, take a look at our five top tips.

1. Get references and check for accreditation

Reputable accountants will have qualifications and accreditations that support the level of expertise they have, such as ICAEW or ACCA. While your accountant doesn’t have to be qualified, it’s in your best interest to make sure they are recognised as working at a certain level.

As well as being accredited, it’s best practice if your accountant has other clients in the same industry as you, as it shows they know what your business needs. It can be beneficial to ask for some of their clients’ names and see if you can talk to them about how they find working with the accountant and whether they would recommend working with them.

2. Consider how the workload will be split

Do you know whether you’re looking for a bookkeeper or an accountant? While their roles can overlap, a bookkeeper is better used for the here and now. Depending on the bookkeeper you use, they may periodically visit your office to ensure the books are up-to-date while focusing on how to keep your books in order.

On the other hand, an accountant will create reports and prepare for audits while also assisting you with compliance needs. They have more of an advisory role, watching your profit and loss over the course of the year.

If you hire a bookkeeper, it can take some of the day-to-day strain off you and the business; however, they might not be able to provide you with the in-depth advice you need. However, if you hire an accountant, you need to keep on top of the day-to-day accounting while knowing you can ask for advice if needed.

3. Leverage word of mouth

If you have contacts in businesses that are similar to yours, reach out and ask who they use. They may be able to provide you with a better insight into how their accountant works with them, and they may find they are better at one aspect than another. For example, maybe they’re good when preparing for audits, but there’s little to no communication when preparing tax returns.

You can also ask your contact how they would rate the accountant from both a service and a pricing perspective. If they find their accountant isn’t providing good value for money, it could be a red flag and a sign that you need to look elsewhere. However, if they only have good things to say, it could be time to book an appointment and start the ball rolling with them.

4. Find out what software the accountant uses

Accountants tend to have a preferred accounting software that they use to manage their client’s money. If the accountant has been in business for many years and always used the same software, they may be adverse to change if you use a different one.

If your company uses a different accounting or bookkeeping software, there can be problems exporting and importing data in a format that your accountant can use.

If you have your heart set on using a specific system, make sure you find an accountant that also uses the software. If you use QuickFile, your accountant can link to your account and view your data without having to import or export. This means you can work on your accounting collaboratively when needed.

5. Discuss costs

As a small company, cost can be a factor when deciding whether you need an accountant or whether you’re going to try and go it alone.

How an accountant prices their fees can be beneficial to you. Some accountants price based on the workload you pass to them, which can mean they charge high prices for one-off annual jobs. Or they may charge a monthly retainer, which means they are always on call when you need them and are there for the one-off jobs too.

While it could be expensive to have them on retainer, you always know they’ll be there to answer your questions when you need them.

You also need to know whether they charge an exit fee if you find they’re not the right fit for you.

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