If you are self-employed, having a good accountant is absolutely vital to maximise the advantages associated with your status.
However, if the accountant you are thinking of using is good at marketing, it can be difficult to tell what a worthwhile benefit is and what’s nothing more than bluster.
If you are deliberating over your choice of accountant, here are five tips which should help you identify the right professional for you.
1) Be specific
If you are self-employed, you could probably use more or less any qualified accountant and get a decent result but in order to get real value, it’s a better idea to find an accountant who is familiar with the ins and outs of your industry.
Every sector has its own particular quirks and having an accountant who knows where the problems are likely to arise, and acts to anticipate and resolve them before they rear their ugly head can be simply priceless.
For example, IT contractors can be particularly vulnerable to a piece of legislation known as IR35 and it can take accounting wizardry to ensure that all contracts and documents prove this HMRC rule does not apply. Having an accountant familiar with the problem will give you a better chance of being successful.
2) Think local
You might be under the impression that you will only be seeing your accountant once every year for a tax return but you could well end up in their office more often than you think. Picking an accountant because they have a swanky city office might seem a real plus at first but when you have to sit in traffic for miles and face a long round trip every time you have an appointment, you might end up wishing you had considered somewhere a little closer to where you live or work.
Picking an accountant with an office which is easy to reach could be a blessing if you have to visit them regularly – sitting in long traffic jams is less than fun
3) Expect to see them regularly
Linked to the point mentioned above, people often assume they will not need the services of their accountant very frequently. However, you could benefit from using their expertise for more than simply completing a tax return. Whether it’s advice on setting up a pension or queries over whether you would be better off changing the set-up of your business, a good accountant should be there to provide you with sound and practical advice when you need it the most.
Setting out with this expectation could change who you decide to appoint.
4) Innovation and technology
The stereotypical image of an accountant might be an individual almost buried by heaps of paperwork, but in the modern world, nothing could be further from the truth.
Accountancy firms have become spectacular at developing software which enables calculations to be completed simply with a click of the mouse, saving them hours poring over their calculator and reams of scrawled figures.
When you are selecting an accountant, you should therefore look for a firm who can offer you the latest in technology including an online portal and a link up to your live data any time day or night. Having to wait days to get your accountant to return your call with the figures you need should be a thing of the past.
5) Pick some-one you like!
Whilst qualifications and the ability to stay up to date with changes in legislation is important, your accountant should be some-one you can turn to for honest and helpful financial advice. And in order to have a good working relationship, it’s essential to find some-one you think you can trust.
Once you have appointed an accountant, they should get to know more about your business, not simply be a vessel which you pass trivial data to. By taking an active role in getting to know you and what you do, they can help you to optimise your earnings and maximise any advantages which are available.
But to have this kind of working relationship means being able to open up and risk sounding silly by asking daft questions when you need to, which is why your accountant should be some-one that you ‘click’ with when you meet.
If the accountant you have in mind is difficult to get along with you might struggle to develop the necessary professional relationship for optimum results
The chances are that you will be working with your accountant for many years to come so finding some-one who you can develop a good rapport and working relationship is important, as is having existing knowledge and experience of your industry. The right accountant could be surprisingly influential on your business so take your time and make sure you choose some-one that ticks all of the above boxes.
An article by Samantha who suggests Brookson – Warrington Accountants if you are looking to find a new Accountant.
Image credits: Pete Nijenhuis