9 Tips when choosing an Accountant
How to Choose an Accountant | 9 free tips
Selecting an accountant can seem a daunting task, but if you choose correctly, they can be an extremely valuable asset to your business. A good accountant will not only handle your financial and operational data but will offer professional business advice on a number of other topics too, leaving you free to focus on maintaining and expanding your business.
Did you know that according to government statistics, businesses with one to 9 employees are more likely to turn to an accountant for help with employment law than any other type of professional adviser? And for C Charles and Co we are proud to be our clients number 1 most trusted provider.
There are lots of reasons why our clients use us from the strength of our team, to our specialist property experience or our unique tax solutions.
Top 9 Tips on what to look for when choosing an accountant
1. IT – Are they up to date with the latest technology do they file their clients’ tax returns online. Believe it or not there are some accountants who still handwrite their clients’ tax returns. We recently got a new client who was fed up with his old accountant refusing to use email as a form of communication!
2. FIXED FEES – Choose an accountant that fixes his fees up front so you know what you will be paying. The last thing you want is to be stung with a huge bill just because you like to ring your accountant for generic tax advice.
3. SPECIALISMS – Similar to solicitors, accountants can specialise in many areas such as auditing, forensic accounting, liquidations, business consultancy, financial management and taxation but to name a few. So if you are a fast growing entrepreneurial business owner or a successful property investor looking to reduce their tax liability, choose an accountant that specialises in tax planning, high end tax strategies and property taxation.
4. PROPERTY INVESTOR – If you want an accountant that specialises in taxation then it makes sense to pick one that actually invests in property himself. Think about it – the advice that he will be giving you will be the same that he follows for himself!
5. UP TO DATE – Does he really know his stuff? Does he go to seminars to update his knowledge in the areas that you want to receive advice from? Is he passionate about increasing his knowledge in taxation? Does he network with other niche tax practices and Independent Financial Advisors to assess if there are any other products in the market that can genuinely support your business needs?.
– Do they have any or do they simply work from home? If they do have offices how expensive are they to run and maintain. Having expensive, plush offices in Central London may look fancy on the letter head but it will obviously be reflected in the charges so beware.
– What are you getting for your money? Cheap fees will inevitably reflect on the service. If you only want compliance work then choose a basic cost effective accountant but if you want the best tax advice then never select on the basis of fees. Always look for the right balance, any advice that you pay for MUST always make or save you more money than the fees being charged, otherwise you are wasting your money.
8. BE WARY OF DUPLICATED WORK
If you are being charged on a time basis then make sure that there is no duplication of work. You do not want to pay for the same job done twice or even worse to be charged for errors made by your advisor (this is applicable to both solicitors and accountants). Always ask for a predictive cost of the service to be provided (I always do this with my solicitors) and also set a ceiling of fees on time charged services. It is important that this ceiling is agreed together with your professional advisor BEFORE any work is done as this will avoid unnecessary arguments in the future. If this ceiling is to be breached by your advisor then simply ask for a reason and also a breakdown of their time sheet so that you can analyse where and how time has been spent.
– how many members of staff work for him? Does he have enough numbers to service your needs? What is the level of experience and qualifications of the team members? Does the accountancy practice network with other accountants, tax advisors, niche tax practices or independent financial advisors?
Remember your accountant and tax advisor is a very important part of your business and represents your professional "power team”. Take your time to select the right one that suits your needs and the needs of your business. Make sure you ask a lot of questions until you are confident of their ability and that their practice will give you the right advice for the right fees. It is important to note that bad tax advice can cost your business a substantial amount of money in back dated taxes, interest and penalties of up to 100% of the unpaid tax!
Arrange to Meet us
The very best way to see if we are in fact right for each other is to meet. And that’s we want to offer you a free, no obligation 1:1 meeting with one of our senior team. We can then find out more about you and your requirements and where we may be able to add value to you. You can arrange your free 1:1 meeting here