Nobody wants to part with their hard earned cash for a poor service, especially if that service is to handle finances and give business advice. Having an accountant is an essential part of any business and can provide the backbone to a successful company.
By controlling your finances, they should help to increase profits and save you money at the same time. Finding the right accountant, however, can be tricky.
We have provided a guide on what to look for and how to choose the best one for you.
The role of the accountant
A good accountant should benefit your business, not just be there to fill out paperwork. While that is part of their job, they should also do the following:
- Keep on top of the finances by recording cash flow and reporting on gross profits and margins. This can indicate where there is room for growth to maximise profit.
- Save you money by calculating the correct amount of tax you should be paying and ensuring forms are filled out correctly and on time. They should also review what tax allowances you’re entitled to. If you have a small business and work from home, for example, you could be eligible for tax relief.
- Advise you on different company models and their tax implications, giving you benefits and drawbacks of each one. This will help you decide how your company can best be run.
- Save you time by handling the financial side of things so you can focus on running the business.
Where to look
It can be hard to spot a lazy or bad accountant until they’ve actually worked with you and shown what they can do. That’s why it is very important to start your search in the right places to avoid choosing any dodgy firms. It is a great idea to ask your family, friends and professional contacts for recommendations as they may have had experience working with accountants first hand and can give you an honest opinion.
Choose only qualified accountants who are members of accounting associations, for example, The Association of Practising Accountants or The Society of Professional Accountants. You can also try using www.choose-your-accountant.co.uk to compare quotes. Use the internet to your advantage by finding reviews and customer comments about different accountancy firms to check their reputation. If a firm has previously done a bad job, there is bound to be people revealing this in forums or review blogs. If you’re still having trouble finding good accountants, speak to your bank manager. They should be able to recommend suitable firms for your business based on the size and nature of your company.
How to decide
Now that you’ve found a few accountants to choose from, make sure you don’t rush your decision. It’s your money on the line so only decide to hire when you’re absolutely sure they are right for the job. When choosing between firms:
- Find out if they have worked with businesses similar to yours before, within the same industry. If they have experience of working in the sector, they will be equipped with the necessary legislation and can advise you accordingly.
- Check the size of their establishment. If you are a small business, it’s wise to look for a small accountancy firm as they will be used to dealing with smaller company issues.
- Meet them in person and ask for references. If they provide a great service, they will only be too happy to oblige.
- Ask what they can offer you and how they will benefit your business.
- Make sure you like them and can see yourself having a good working relationship with them. You need to be able to trust the person or firm that is handling your money.
- Compare fees and services of each firm to get value for your money. However, don’t assume the accountant offering the cheapest fee is the best. They could end up providing a poor service resulting in missed deadlines or overpaid taxes which will lose you money.
By following these steps, you’re well on your way to finding the right accountant for you. For more information and advice on accountancy, visit The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants website.
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