How To: Choose the Right accountant

Choosing an accountant is a key part of your business decision as it is like choosing a new business partner who will be offering advice and guidance as you grow. So, the question is what are the top things you need to look out for?

It is easy to say hire Dunkley’s as your accountant (I would be lying it if wasn’t!) however it is important that you take into consideration all factors before making such a big business decision. You will need to think about location, the services they offer, which type of accountancy software they use...the lot! Price point is also a key consideration as you don’t want to pay too much for an accountant, at the end of the day you are looking at them to help you calculate your earnings and reduce as many business taxes and expenditure as possible so you get the best possible profit.

The right person will have the capability, experience and be the one to save you time and money year after year.

So with that said, here are our 10 things to consider;

1. Where are they located?

Location used to be more important that it is today thanks to the cloud-based technology that helps manage your accounts in real-time anywhere, anytime. But does this mean location is less of an issue for you and your business?

The decision about this comes down to what suits your company the best. Think, how do you like your finances handled? Would you rather collaborate over email, phone call and online accountancy platforms or would you like to be having a face to face conversation with your accountant to chat everything through? If it is the later, then location is an essential factor for you.

2. Are they certificated?  

Accountants which are certified or chartered have a greater breath of experience and knowledge which will add value to your business. If you are a business which expects to grow, it is a good idea to hire a professional accountant from the beginning rather than later down the line.

It is possible to hire an accountant who is not certified or chartered however, that could be an unwise move. Tasks such as bookkeeping, tax preparation and general accounts work do not need a certified accountant to be produced however when it comes to growing your company, requesting a loan or auditing your large business a certified accountant is what you need!

3. What is their expertise?  

When hiring an accountant, you need to choose someone with experience in preparing tax returns and financial documentation of companies that are a similar size and revenue to yours. If you can also find one which has worked with businesses in the same sector as you before then that is a massive bonus as they will have a good understanding of your unique needs.

When looking at expertise, why not also consider their expertise in using cloud-accountancy software. Are they forward thinking? Technologically savvy? If they are then this will benefit you massively in the long run with Making Tax Digital coming into the forefront from 2018.

4. Who recommends them?

When you start your search, why not ask your family or friends who own a small business first to see if they would recommend their accountant? It is a simple yet potentially effective way to find someone who is tried and tested.  

It is however important to remember that choosing an accountant is a very personal decision, so what is right for your friend who owns a hairdressing salon might not suit your manufacturing company.

Looking online for recommendations is also a possibility, however if you do this please be careful to use trusted websites or business orientated social media networks, for example LinkedIn. If done right, it is a good alternative way to search for accountants who’ve been recommended by others.

5. How will you divide the work?  

When looking for an accountant it is easy to choose them based on the price they are charging however it is also important to consider how they work and which aspects of your bookkeeping you will give them.

Accountants can easily handle every aspect of your bookkeeping and accounting but is this the best approach? I’m not going to lie, accountants charge by the hour so making them do simple data-entry tasks isn’t the best use of their time or your money. So why not take that bit away…looking at it from a positive, it will be of benefit to you to get a better grasp on all your expenses and revenue income and give you a heads-up on any potential problems.

Sound like a lot? This is where cloud-accountancy software can come in as it is easy to use, simplifies key tasks such as invoicing but also allows the accountant to have access to it all the time from a secure server and do why they need to do.  

6. Are they proactive?  

Before choosing the right accountant, ask what they could suggest to save your business money. Some accountants will do little more than manage your accounts so it is best you find a very proactive one who is interested in doing more to help your business succeed.

7. What software do they use?  

It is true, accountants often have their own preference when it comes to accounting software. This does then raise the issue of sharing data however with the technology that is in place today it can be worked around with minimal issue. This said, it is good if you can find an accountant who's using the same software as you.

When using a software, try to use market leading accounting software that is easy to use and allows files to be exchanged in a secure and encrypted away. An even better option, which we would recommend is a cloud-based accounting software with encryption built in. By going down this route, you don't have to worry about the risks involved in exchanging data back and forth.

8. Have you met them?  

One of the key tips to give you is make sure you meet with your prospective accountant before signing on the dotted line. That is something, we at Dunkley’s are proactive in doing as it gives you the chance to meet us, ask questions and get all your queries out on the table but it also gives us a chance to meet you and fully understand your needs and anticipate your future requirements.

9.  What does your gut say?  

You have the experience, it is your company so what does your gut say about working with the accountant? Sometimes you instantly get on with people and other times you don’t so it is only you who will know if they are the right fit. At the end of the day, getting on with people is such an important part of being a success in business so why settle for less?

When you meet an accountant for the first time, consider your intuition. Alongside logical evaluations, ask yourself if you could trust this person with the intimate details of your business. If you think you could work with them for the foreseeable future then that’s great but if your gut feeling is saying no, you should probably walk away.

10. How will they help your business grow?

From the start, your accountant will become involved with the operation of your company so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. It is therefore vital that you find someone you can trust, has the experience and will be there for you when you need them.

Good accountants also help your company grow by managing your complex accountancy work and offer practical business advice. This will guarantee to save you money in both the short and long term – the best ones become your ‘extra’ partner – so choose wisely!  

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