Choosing the right accountant is one of the most important decisions a small business can make. A good one can save you time and help your business grow; a bad one could cost you much needed money. With so many to choose from, it can be a daunting call to make. When it comes to selecting and working with an accountant, what are the questions every small business owner should ask and what are the key points to look out for. It’s an unfortunate fact in this country that literally anyone can call themselves an ‘Accountant’, only those qualified and members of either ACCA or ICAEW can claim Chartered status and if you are looking for a professional service, it is certainly recommended that you refine your search to ensure it you only consider a qualified Chartered Accountant to work with.
Accountants have moved on now, and far from simply preparing your statutory year end reporting, a good accountant should be able to offer a one stop shop with regards to tax planning, financial advice, fund raising, corporate legal advice and operational consultation.
You should be clear on what you are expecting from the relationship when you engage an accountant. Many accountants do not provide bookkeeping services as standard. Quite often it would be far more cost-effective for you to keep your own books and records with the support of a professional accountant, as opposed to requesting your accountant keeps them for you.
Accountants offer differing levels of engagement, so make sure to establish how often you’ll be in contact, and whether you’ll correspond by email or telephone. At larger firms, the person you initially meet or speak to on the phone might not be the person actually handling the work, ask who will be dealing with your account on a day-to-day basis and ensure they are suitably qualified.