THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CHOOSING YOUR ACOUNTANT
It is a great misconception that all accountants are created equal. There are many accountants to choose from and they all claim to be dependable and reliable. The decision of who should be left in charge of your finances is not one that should be taken lightly. When choosing your accountant these following factors should be considered.
Size of practice
Accounting practices range in size, with larger practices providing a greater range of services in-house but sacrificing on personal connection. Small practices may provide a limited range of services but this should be sufficient for most small businesses. If you are running a nationwide business with multiple branches you will be well advised to use a larger accounting practice.
A general rule of thumb is to use a firm of a similar size to your own business. As If your business outgrows your accountant, you may find your needs change and you may need to look for a new accountant. If you do switch, your existing account should assist with this hand-over.
Some firms offer lots of advice to help you set up your financial records whilst others offer little support. The amount of advice you require is dependent on your knowledge, experience and needs. If you need any help in these areas, make sure you choose a firm that will do this without making excessive charges.
You should feel that you are able to speak freely with your accountant. If they make you feel uneasy or that connection simply isn’t there, you would be well-advised to find someone else.
Ask for testimonials on all potential accountants. It is of paramount importance that they are able to provide you with honest references from a variety of clients. Do ensure however that any recommendations you receive are balanced with the other factors discussed here.
When you are looking for potential accountants, you should never settle for the first quote. Always gather at least three quotes. This is because fee structures vary from firm-to-firm, with some charging a set rate for each task, and others charging by the minute, with each phone call and email adding to your bill.
Whilst the fee is one consideration, you should not make a decision solely on price. There are cheap accountants who cut corners, don’t have the knowledge or expertise required to do the work properly or who have hidden charges. Remember you are buying professional services so should expect to pay a reasonable price for quality services.
Small businesses with complex accounting needs will require greater assistance than the basic training given at tax preparation firms. It is also a fairly common occurrence for trainees, who failed to complete their qualifications, to set up independent practices. Proper certifications show more than an ability to pass exams. They show that the accountant must comply with best practices and professional standards.
Accountants who specialise in a few business areas can generally offer a better service to clients who work in those industries. If you are a graphic designer, for example, you may find an accountant who specialises in construction will be of little help to you.
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