If your last tax return – and/or the end of the tax year – left you feeling disorganised and stressed, chances are that you don’t have an accountant. It’s also likely that you’re starting to see the benefits of having one!
But how do you find a great accountant – one that’s right for you and your business?
Ask for Recommendations
Recommendations from friends and family are all very well, but it’s good to ask other people in your industry who they use. In this way, you’re more likely to find an accountant with an in-depth knowledge of your particular type of business, its requirements and any industry-specific tax regulations.
Don’t forget to ask people if they consider their accountant good – and why. Otherwise, this scenario occurs:
‘Who do you use, Harry?’
‘Oh, I use Ron Weasely, in that little office behind the station. Really cheap.’
Six months later, when you’re having a coffee or a pint with Harry and complaining that Ron Weasely’s never around when you need him and you’re not sure if he’s even submitted your tax return, Harry may well turn around and say: ‘Oh yes, that drives me mad too. Never answers his phone, never responds to emails…’
Check Their Accountancy Qualifications
Look beyond the title of ‘tax expert’ and ‘professional book-keeping services’ to determine if the accountants you’re considering actually have qualifications. Are they members of CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) or ACCA (Certified Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), and are junior staff all AAT or CAT qualified?
Meet Your Shortlist of Accountants in Person
Meeting potential accountants face-to-face will help you ascertain:
– What services they can offer: bookkeeping, tax returns, VAT returns, payroll, business planning etc…
– How they could help you improve and grow your business
– Their experience in providing financial services for businesses in your indsutry
– How well they communicate – do they explain tax and business technicalities in a way you can understand?
– How well they listen to you and understand your requirements – and that of your business
– How they will gather and share the information they need to provide the services you require
– How and when you can contact them
– If they have the staff, resources and time that your business will need
A good accountant should be worth every penny you spend on them. If, after several months, you’re not convinced the accountant you’ve chosen is right for you and your business, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. In this context, YOU are the customer – and have every right to shop around for the best service!