Choosing the right accountant for your business is an important decision. A good accountant can save you money, reduce costs and improve your business performance.
But comparing accountants can be very hard. When you don’t necessarily understand everything they can do for you, it’ll be like trying to identify a great doctor when you’re not one yourself.
Don’t just go with your gut instinct. You can ask questions. As most accountants have the same basic level of professional qualifications, one of the most important things to do is to find a business accountant whom you feel comfortable with. But, make sure that they also offer the level of service that you need.
You need to pick an accountant you’re comfortable with. One that you can ask question to, and gives you answers you understand. After all, to get value from them, you’ll need to work closely with them. You will also have to trust that they have your best interests at heart.
Another thing to consider is the level of support and service you want to receive from your accountant. If you just want cheap and cheerful, you’re not going to get much in the way of service or added benefits. On the other hand, if you want someone proactive and takes an active role in monitoring and improving your business finances, you will need to ensure the provider is able to offer you all these.
Meet with several accountants. Ask them to tell you why you should entrust your business’ books with them. And then choose the one who will serve your business best.
Don’t be tempted to just choose the cheapest accountant. That could cost you more in the long run!
Take extra consideration in getting what you paid for. Will you get hit with a fee every time you pick up the phone to ask a question? Will they take the time to meet up to explain to you your financial situation, and assist your business’s growth?
There are also a number of other things to consider in selecting your accountant. We have highlighted them for you.
Fixed fee or hourly rate?
Some accountants will charge you a fixed fee for all the work they do. This means you know from the start how much the service will cost you. There are no nasty surprises. This will also allow you to budget better. Other accountants charge you by the hour. You are charged depending on how long it takes them to complete the job. Under this method of charging, there’s no incentive for the accountant to be efficient in completing your work. You also risk receiving a scary bill in the end.
CPA or CA?
You may be surprised to know that anyone can operate an accounting practice without any formal qualifications at all. Anyone can just call himself a public accountant, and away he goes! That’s why it’s a good idea to choose an accountant who has completed formal education and is a member of a professional body (CA or CPA). Both Chartered Accountants (CA) and Chartered Practicing Accountants (CPA) are regulated and required to undergo ongoing professional development to ensure their knowledge remains up to date.
Are you looking for an accountant who will look after either your own or your business’s accounting needs? Some accountants will only do one or the other. Others may look after both.
It may be helpful to create a list of what you want your accountant to help you with. This way, you can meet with them to ask how they can assist you with key areas you have identified.
Because of the complexity of laws, and the wider needs of running a business, you will find that many accountants specialise to offer a deeper level of understanding in a particular field. Make sure to consider a business accountant who is able to assist you in the areas where you require aid.
Where to find an accountant
With the development of the internet, it’s very easy to find a huge list of accountants. But this can be misleading. Money can buy a fancy website, but this isn’t necessarily an indication of the service you will receive. A personal referral is still the best way to find reputable and reliable accountants.
Size of the practice
As a general rule of thumb, big accounting firms deal with big companies. As their accounts are large and complex. Small businesses are not likely to receive the level of attention they would like from these big firms.
Do’s and Don’ts of choosing an accountant
- Ask lots of questions.
- Request an audience with current clients.
- Look for testimonials.
- Ask friends about their accountants – Are their accountants members of a professional body?
- Don’t be afraid to ask what accountants can do for you, and why you should entrust your business’ financial transactions to them.
- Read and do your research – Look for accountants who have won awards, or have received good publicity.
- Shortlist potential accountants, and meet up with them to confirm if their services meet your needs.
- Look for an accountant who won’t charge you for every phone call, meeting, or email.
- Look for an accountant who will take the time to explain your financials to you – To be successful in business, it is essential that you understand your numbers.
- Use price as the only deciding factor – Quality service is an investment, not a cost. Cheap service may cost you far more in the long run.
- Leave finding an accountant until the last minute – The best accountants will be busy, and will not be able to fit your work in if you leave it too late.
- Choose the first accountant you meet – It is an important decision that can make you save hundreds. So take your time.
- Lie about your business’ size, needs, or potential.
Potential questions to ask
- What professional body are you and your team members with?
- What qualifications do you hold in accounting?
- Who will be undertaking my financial transactions?
- How do you charge for your work?
- Do you specialise in any specific field?
- Do you have any existing clients I could speak to regarding your service?
- Have you won any awards relating to your service?
- What can you offer me and my business?
- Why should I choose your accounting services?
We hope this helps you find the right accounting practice to suit your individual needs.