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The right accountant for my business?

A good Accountant is worth their weight in gold to a small business.  Whether you are starting out in business and hiring an Accountant for the first time or you need to change Accountants, there are a number of factors that you need to consider:

  1. Compile a shortlist of possible Accountants, three is a good number.  The best way to do this is to get recommendations.  Speak with other business owners in the area to get some names.
  2. Ensure that these Accountants are fully qualified, ie ACCA, CPA.
  3. Speak with each Accountant, initially on the phone, and then in person.  You need to have a rapport with your Accountant so it’s important to establish this at the outset.  Trust is vital.
  4. If it’s a small practice more than likely you will be dealing with the main person.  However, if it’s a larger practice, you might find that you rarely speak with the partner you met initially.  Determine who you will be dealing with.
  5. Whether the practice is large or small, make sure that they deal with small business clients and have experience in the area you operate ie a cash business or online shopping.
  6. In this day and age, your chosen Accountant should be proficient in computing packages and ideally with the system you are using.
  7. Cost!  You need to get the full lowdown of what you will be charged.  Get a detailed breakdown of what is involved. If you call up with a query, is this cost included or will you be charged extra?  Are your personal tax returns included in this price?  When will the charges fall due?
  8. A good Accountant should act as a general Business Consultant to a small business.   They should be able to advise you on issues such as growth of the business, pricing, leasing etc.
  9. Your Accountant should also be able to provide personal finance advice.  Retirement planning is an important issue now and not just in the future.
  10. Finally, to ensure minimal year end fees, Accountants love to see a well-prepared set of books arriving in their office.  Having your bookkeeping and payroll in order will ensure very little work for your Accountant and reduced fees for you.

If your current Accountant is not working for you – change!  However, remember to check any contracts or agreements in place before you start this process.