How do I choose the right accountant for my business?

Choosing the right accountant for your business can have a hugely positive influence on the long term success of your company. However, accountancy is a competitive market, and the range of options can be confusing. 

Finding the right accountant for your business

There are many commonly-used approaches to determining and selecting the most appropriate type of accountant. These include:

  • Word of mouth
  • Government information
  • Business associations
  • Internet searches

Key factors to consider when choosing an accountant

Is the accountant a good fit for your business? Some essential criteria here include:

  • Your budget
  • Your company size
  • Your type of business
  • The location of your business
  • How you choose to delegate and divide your workload 
  • What is your preferred accounting software

Why is it so important to have the right accountant?

Whilst there are plenty of online accounting resources which can help you manage your business finances yourself, choosing an experienced accountant can be vital for the success of your business. The right accountant can save you both money and time over the longer term. 

Does location matter in choosing an accountant?

Historically, many business owners would have chosen an accountant nearby, but this isn't always the case. Cloud-based technology and finance automation have revolutionised the field, enabling you and your accountant to view and discuss real-time data, wherever you are. 

As a result, the selection of your accountant now depends far more upon finding the best fit for your business rather than purely geographical considerations. That being said, personal choice invariably enters the equation and many business owners prefer to have face-to-face meetings with their accountant.

Why choose a qualified accountant?

There are a host of ever-changing statutory and regulatory requirements associated with the management and production of company accounts. Further to this, there is a new generation of company cards which, whilst adding value to your business, require management.

A suitably qualified accountant will have the experience needed to manage and advise upon a wide range of activities ranging from operational accounting and auditing through to liaising with potential investors. Accounting professionals will be committed to continuous professional development (CPD) to ensure that they remain abreast of the changes in the regulatory landscape.

You will be best served by an accountant who has experience of dealing with businesses of a similar size, turnover and structure as yours. You may also want to verify that your accountant can deal with your business specifics. Business specifics include any accounting software solutions already in place or, perhaps, any international trade components. 

If possible, you may also benefit from an accountant who has worked within your specific market sector. At the very least, they should have an appreciation of your type of business. If you have significant plans for growth, you may determine that a firm rather than an individual will be better placed to grow with you. 

Make use of business associations and Government resources

The Government is keen to encourage growth, as are business associations and professional bodies. The result is a wide range of business advisers and networks which may offer advice and assistance in choosing your accountant. These can also connect you with other business owners, who can be a vital source of information when it comes to accounting recommendations.

How will your accounting work be divided?

Consider what will work best for your business in deciding what tasks your accountant will cover. Remember that you will usually be paying by the hour. Time-consuming data entry tasks may not be the best use of an accountants time or your money. You may decide to have basic accounts data entered in-house, before handing this over to your accountant to complete the more complex and involved tasks, examples of which may include:

  • Completing tax returns
  • Bank account reconciliation
  • Capital depreciation calculations
  • Filing annual accounts
  • Shareholder communication
  • Dividends
  • Tax planning

Why choose a proactive accountant?

Most professional accountants will adopt a proactive stance in advising you in the above areas, together with other elements of financial management and planning. During the selection process, there is a discussion identifying their approach and degree of proactivity (and the associated costs). An accountant may ask questions to determine how they might approach certain areas to the benefit of you and your business.

Ultimately, the selection of professional advisors is very much a personal decision. Yourself and potentially other members of the senior management team (depending on your business size) will need to be able to work with them. Style, stance, approach to risk and a host of other traits, including cost, will come into play in distinguishing a valued business partner from a mere service provider.

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