How to Find The Right Accountant

As any entrepreneur should know, a good accountant has the potential not only to save a business significant amounts of money, but also significant amounts of time. Conversely, a poor choice of accountant can create financial and administrative headaches which take months or even years to resolve.

The most obvious indicator that an accountant is right for your business can be found in his or her qualifications. It is almost never a good idea to take on an accountant who is not qualified with one of the major accountancy organisations (ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW or ICAS). Whilst you may save money in the short-term, it is unlikely that such a person will be expert enough to prepare your accounts in the way you require, and it is entirely possible that they will expose you to significant tax liability.

Formal qualifications are not the only important factor when it comes to accountancy expertise, however. While all qualified accountants will have the basic knowledge required to prepare company accounts and file tax returns, it makes much more sense for you to employ someone who already knows your sector. If at all possible, look for an accountant who has prior experience with comparable businesses, both in terms of size and product. The best accountants don’t simply provide a reactive service, but take the initiative in suggesting ways to improve your financial management processes.

The best way to find such an accountant is to ask those who already outsource their accountancy function. Ask around in your sector for recommendations and, just as importantly, for the names of those accountants you should be avoiding. If you can’t find a consensus among fellow business owners, search a little more widely and ask your friends and family about their personal accountants. Many of those who handle personal tax affairs are also perfectly well equipped to prepare accounts for small and medium sized enterprises.

Once you have identified a suitably qualified and referenced candidate, you need to see if you can establish a good personal relationship with them. Whilst you don’t need to become close friends, it is essential that you feel comfortable with the person who is going to be dealing with your money. If you don’t feel that you can trust them, or that they understand the direction you envisage for your business, don’t employ them. You are free to change accountants as and when required, and should not feel bound to any one person if the professional relationship isn’t working out.

Of course, there is one other important factor to consider. Some accountants charge more than others, and you must find one whom you can feasibly afford. If you have fulfilled the criteria above, however, and have found someone who is well qualified, understands your sector, has been recommended by others and with whom you feel comfortable, consider splashing out a little extra. A really good accountant could be one of the best business investments that you ever make.

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