5 Helpful Tips & 5 Myths Debunked
What should I look for in an accountant? Should I change my accountant?
Last time we looked at why you probably should get an accountant – but in part 1 of this series we’re giving you 5 tips in choosing your accountant and debunking 5 myths when it comes to making the switch.
THE 5 tips
1. Keep Away From Hourly Fees
For business owners there’s no security in them. You’ll spend the time budgeting for the year-end accounts but worry about any additional charges you’ve racked up along the way.
Always opt for an accountant where you pay a fixed monthly fee and agree on the services it includes in advance.
2. Get Real-time Information
The problem with most accountants is that they only give you information about your finances at the end of the year. This means it’s too late to make the changes they’re telling you about - the mistakes have already been made.
Real time information is great for two things:
- Firstly it informs about how much money you have on a regular basis. You'll know how much to invest and be ready for any extra expenses around the corner.
- Secondly your accountant can use the information to provide you with performance data, which helps you make decisions about your business throughout the year.
3. Be Confident They Won’t Make Mistakes
It’s what you pay them for! If they have an effective and simple piece of software in place and are good at communicating how it works to you – you’re probably on safe ground.
Stick to firms who use something like Xero: it’s simple and has a wealth of add-ons in its marketplace meaning there's lots of other programs available to you.
4. Ask, ‘Do They Understand My Business?’
It’s always good to know if an accountant has dealt with businesses like yours before – it can give you a helpful insight into whether they’ve had experience with others like you. This isn’t a must though, they might be great at offering advice from the numbers in front of them.
Giving updates on new legislation is a must, but they should also offer you support and advice about your business in general.
5. Are They Easy To Contact?
This one will depend on your preference. You might only get in touch with your accountant when you really need to, others might be in touch more regularly.
In this modern day and age your accountant doesn’t have to live on your street corner, but one thing's for sure - your accountant should be easy to contact, reply swiftly and shouldn’t charge you for doing it either.
‘I’ll have to wait until the year-end to switch’
Some accountants may advise you to wait until the year-end so all of your financial data and information is neat and in check. Although this is helpful, it isn’t a must!
The truth is - you can change your accountant at any time! Remember the longer you leave it, the more money and time you could be wasting.
‘It’ll take ages to do!’
A lot of the process happens behind the scenes, between the two accountants. It might take some time to completely come together, but both sides will want it to happen as quickly as possible – as it’s their time it’s taking up, not yours.
‘But all accountants are the same anyway’
Not true: like everything - some will just be better! They’ll save you more money because they understand tax better. They’ll give you information clearly because they communicate well and understand your business!
You’ll find all this out once you begin communications. If the accountant is transparent and wants to help you grow your business – and you see them as someone who genuinely wants to help – then you’ll really value one another!
‘I’ve been with them for years though’
Probably not what you’d expect to hear from an accountancy firm, but it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with them – if the business isn’t growing how you’d like, or has stagnated – maybe look into getting a new accountant. Obviously sit down with them first, chat about the situation and work out a plan on how to progress forward.
‘It’s not worth all of the effort’
For this, you have to define 'effort'. Granted, it might be a bit of a pain, but remember it’s not just money that you’ll save - but time too!
Instead of spending hours on finances, admin, invoices and paperwork you could be spending that time making more money, or enjoying well-deserved downtime. Push through and make the change!
The Floor's Yours:
Do you need to switch?
Are there any things that you'd add to the list?
Drop a comment below letting us know! In part 2, we'll be talking about Bookkeepers!