But how do you choose the right accountant for your business?
Of course, you want to find someone who is an accounting expert, communicates well, helps you strategise and maximise your business’s finances, and is affordable.
After you have created a shortlist of accountants, reach out to each of them and ask these four important questions.
Begin by asking about how they charge for their services. While most accountants charge by the hour, some bundle services or offer a monthly retainer option.
Be sure to get in writing what services are included and which may be invoiced additionally.
Basic tasks like data entry, reconciliations, payroll processing and bookkeeping will come in at the lowest price point. Expect to pay a bit more for tasks like income tax returns, audited financial statement preparation, budgeting, and tax advising.
It may also be a good idea to share a copy of your previous year tax returns. This will allow the prospective accountant to see if they can give you an idea of the cost of their services and gauge expected work so they can offer a more accurate quote.
Anyone in the UK can call themselves an accountant or bookkeeper even if they have had no training or have no professional qualifications.
First and foremost, if your accountant is going to do your tax return make sure they are an accredited by the CCAB.It is simple to search for CIMA members on their site here. The CIMA is evidence that the accountant has passed tough exams and has a good understanding of business accounting and income tax.
Additionally, ask which professional associations they belong to and confirm that they currently meet the standards of each association. Members of most professional accounting institutes not only have to have professional indemnity insurance to cover them – and you if anything goes wrong – but they also have to abide by the code of professional ethics set by their institute.
Professional references are important. These can tell you if there have ever been any issues, complaints or disciplinary action taken against an accountant.
If you run a small business, it’s important to get references from other business clients. Accountants who handle other companies are more likely to have insight into the relevant business laws.
Keep in mind that all accountants maintain client confidentiality so you cannot contact just contact any client. Expect to rather be put in touch only with clients who have offered to make a recommendation or appear on the accountant’s website.
Ask these references what they like and don’t like about working with the accountant. Share what you are looking for in an accountant to gauge their reaction on whether or not they think their accountant would be a good fit for you too.
Spreadsheets and other accounting paperwork have given way to computers and data storage in the cloud. Paperless accounting saves time and money, and you want to be sure your accountant manages all data in the cloud. Also be sure to ask your potential accountant how computer literate he or she is, and be sure to look at their firm’s presence on the web and social media.
The cloud and mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.) will continue to help further integrate technology into all aspects of an accountant’s daily duties. This connectivity helps accountants work more efficiently and exchange information with clients more effectively.
Selecting an accountant is a big decision for the success of your business, and these four questions should help you navigate the waters and find the best one!