What you can expect from your accountant depends on your business or personal finance goals and priorities.
As a minimum, an accountant can free up your time by managing your accounts and handling key functions like bookkeeping or completing tax returns. But to get the most from your accountant, you’ll want someone who’ll act as a proactive partner: supporting you with reporting, compliance, tax efficiency, and business planning.
At the end of the day, a good accountant is someone you can trust to arm you with reliable financial information. They’ll help you make business decisions, grow to meet your goals, and ultimately save you money.
Clear and consistent communication is the first non-negotiable you should expect from your accountant.
Do you feel as though you can talk to them comfortably about most issues, or do they make you hesitant to share more? Do they speak in a language you can understand, or bamboozle you with jargon? Are there multiple ways for you to get in touch with them, depending on your preference?
Consider the above carefully. Without knowing when, how, and how easily you’ll be able to communicate, you’ll be off on the wrong foot.
An accountant’s job is ultimately to save you money, while mitigating certain risks or common pitfalls. For that reason, it’s important that you’re not afraid to ask them how they believe they can add value with their services from the get-go.
What’s more, there are many different ways accountants charge for work (sometimes on a fixed fee, retainer, or by the hour), and it’s essential that you understand exactly what you’ll be paying for and when.
Latest tools and tech
With Making Tax Digital partly rolled out and more changes on the horizon, it’s never been more important for your accountant to have a solid understanding of the right tools and software that can transform your finances.
Cloud accounting isn’t just the future: it’s happening now, and with good reason. Removing manual processes, bringing data visualisation into the mainstream, and having access to your financial information on the go makes things quicker and easier for business owners and accountants alike.
When choosing your accountant, ask them what software packages they use, and what they’d recommend for you and your specific needs.
How can I find a good accountant?
Now you know what to look for in an accountant, it’s time to go about finding one. There are a few questions to ask yourself when starting your search or narrowing down candidates.
- Does location matter?
How important is it for you to work with an accountant that’s just around the corner, or has direct experience in your local market? If it’s not a factor, don’t be limited by geography.
- Are they professionally qualified?
Chartered accountants and tax advisors (like us at Pearson May) are highly qualified professionals. There are other qualifications that you might look for depending on your needs, too, or membership of a professional body to give the rubber stamp that you’re working with an expert.
- Do they have industry experience?
Have they worked with clients like you before? Or do they have experience in the industry themselves? Familiarity with the type of business you run usually means you’ll be able to start working more quickly and effectively, without having to explain things from scratch.
- Can they grow with me?
If you’re just starting out, what you need from an accountant now will be very different from what you might need in five years’ time. Does the accountant you’re looking at have enough stretch to support you as you grow?
- What do other people say about them?
Referrals are the most common way accountants get new clients – because if they do good work, they’ll usually be recommended to others. Speak to others in your community to get a flavour of what a prospective accountant is like to work with and get a feel for their customer service, too.
Finding the perfect match
Finding the right accountant for your business is an important decision, and it’s worth taking time to consider all of the above – and speaking to a few different practices to find the right fit.
If you’re interested in working with Pearson May, or would like to understand more about how we might help you, please get in touch with our team.