What are you paying your accountant for?

Your accountant is your adviser

The right accountant for your business will make sure you comply with accounting and tax rules. But they should also be able to tease out knowledge contained within your accounts, providing insights to make good decisions.

They should take the time to understand your business objectives, in order to provide financial support that helps you achieve them. This might mean identifying the best time to start developing a new product, or giving you an honest appraisal of why now is not the time to hire a new member of staff.

Shortlisting accountants

Building a strong relationship with your accountant requires an investment of time. This means it’s wise to take care finding an accountant who’s likely to be a good match.

Put together a shortlist of potential accountants by asking for recommendations from colleagues and contacts, and searching online.

Searching in your local area will make it easier to meet your accountant regularly. Although this can help you build a good understanding – particularly to begin with – it’s not essential.

Regular emails and phone calls, together with good accounting software (see below) make it easier to stay in touch at a distant.

Do they know your sector?

Once you’ve identified some accountants who seem like a good fit for your business, have an initial chat with three or four of them.

See if they’ve taken time to research your company, and pay attention to the questions they ask. Accountants who take an interest in what you do and what you’re aiming to achieve may be better at actively identifying opportunities and offering advice.

Accountancy qualifications

In the UK, anyone can call themselves an accountant, even if they have no experience or qualifications.

So, make sure any accountants on your shortlist are qualified and have membership of a relevant professional body. For instance:

  • ICAEW: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
  • ACCA: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • CIMA: Chartered Institute of Management Accounts