I sometimes get asked what you should look for when choosing an accountant, and it’s a very good question. There are a lot of accountants out there, so which one is right for you?
I would say there are three main points to consider.
Do you feel you can communicate well with them?
Being able to communicate with your accountant is vital if you are going to have a good working relationship with them.
Do you feel at ease when you’re talking to them, or does it feel a bit like hard work?
Do they try and explain things in a way you will understand, or just baffle you with jargon and expect you to get it?
If you rang them up with a question, do you feel they would take the time to answer it, or would they make you feel like you’re being a bit of a nuisance?
To some extent you need to go with your gut feeling on this. If you don’t feel completely comfortable, then they are probably not the accountant for you.
Do they know what they are doing?
This may sound obvious, but a lot of people don’t realise that anyone can set themselves up as an accountant, you don’t need any formal training or qualifications.
So, ask them. Are they qualified? Are they a member of a professional accountancy association? What experience do they have?
Don’t be shy, if they are a qualified and competent accountant, then they won’t mind you asking these questions and will be happy to answer them.
If they start to get a bit evasive, then there’s probably a reason for this and you should look elsewhere. Again, go with your gut instinct because you’ll probably be right.
The price must work for you. However, be prepared to pay a fair price. If you want cheap, you can find cheap, but then you will get a cheap service.
It takes very little time for an accountant to enter a load of figures onto their system and produce a set of accounts or a tax return.
However, a good accountant will be reviewing those figures in detail, reconciling where necessary and questioning anything that doesn’t look right.
They will also be reviewing whether everything is being done to minimise any tax liabilities. Are you operating in the most tax efficient manner? Are there any expenses you could be claiming, but aren’t?
Equally they will question whether you are doing anything you shouldn’t which could come back to bite you in the event of a HMRC investigation.
However, this all takes time and must be built into the fee.
Don’t be afraid to ask what you are getting for your hard-earned cash. An accountant charging a fair fee, should be happy to explain this.
No doubt you will have other questions for your potential accountant but if you’ve ticked the boxes for the three points above, then you’re looking good.