Five Questions to Ask Your Prospective Accountant

Using the services of an accountant is a sensible option for any business owner who wishes to have the extra peace of mind that their finances are being appropriately taken care of. Accountancy rules and legislation can be complicated, so leaving it to the experts is a great way to save time and ensure that you’re fully compliant. But what is the best way to find an accountant? There are likely to be many professionals operating in your local area, so it can be difficult to know who to choose. Asking the following questions should give you all the information you need to make a more informed decision.

Accountant

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Ask about the plans they offer
Using the expertise of an accounting professional is not cheap, so find out whether you can spread the cost across the year, rather than paying a one-off fee. This could be a great option if you’re just starting up a business. Similarly, some firms will offer packages as well as pay-as-you-go services, giving you greater flexibility and allowing you to pick and choose the exact services which you need. Be sure you know what the services are going to cost you upfront.

Ask if any additional services are included
Traditionally, the services of an accountant were pretty much limited to end-of-year tax returns. Today though, a good accountant will offer you support throughout the year. Some packages may include access to online accountancy software such as ClearBooks, which will allow you to keep on top of your finances in-between discussions with your chosen professional.

Ask about their experience
It’s wise to choose an accountant who has experience in dealing with businesses similar to yours. Start-ups and small businesses, for example, will have very different accounting requirements to large multinational organisations. Therefore it’s a good idea to pick a professional who has experience of managing the accounts of companies like yours. Don’t be afraid to ask how they could help you to develop your business.

Ask about response times
Accounts are a very important aspect of any business, so if you have any problems or pressing issues, you need to know that you’ll receive a response as soon as possible. Make sure that you know when your accountant can be contacted and how long you can expect to wait for a reply. Having a professional who will happily answer your emails outside of traditional working hours in the case of emergencies can be invaluable. .

Ask about the size of their company
Many people start off loving their Accountant, the service they receive is fantastic and they receive a personal experience. Over time most Accountants grow their business, as with any other business. You may find that this means you are no longer getting the personal service you have become used to, and you now speak to a different person with every call. You spend more time repeating your questions to different staff than you do getting useful advice. Conversely, if the Accountants you are dealing with are too small you face the problem of never being able to get hold of anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask your Accountant about their Company’s plans for growth, and their 5 or 10 year objectives.

Choosing the right accountant for your business is a very important decision, but it needn’t be overwhelming. If you do your homework and ask the right questions, you’ll be able to pick the best professional to look after your finances.

Lee Peet blogs about tax and personal finance issues that affect both individuals and businesses. Tax and accounting can be a minefield and good, pro-active advice can save businesses and individuals thousands every year. Lee also heads a team of Worcester accountants, Modern Accountancy.

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