Tips to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business
You need an accounting professional on your team. Interview at least three candidates before you select your accountant. You need to choose an accountant that is a fit for your small business. If you hired an accountant that does not feel like they are on your team, move on. While you might feel some short-term discomfort while doing this, you will get long-term benefits for your business. You need up-to-date financial information to make the best business decisions. This starts with professional accounting services.
Ask About Reporting Frequency
It is important for you to know how often you will get financial statements from your accountant. Frequent communication is vital between you and your accountant, especially when you are growing your business. You want to use your accountant as a business advisor, not just to get help during tax season. So, set expectation about the frequency of reporting and communication in advance, and choose an accountant who meets your requirements.
Check If the Accountant Uses Cloud Technology
More and more accountants are switching to cloud computing. It is because of the number of benefits they can get, such as data security, remote data accessibility, flexibility to do work, and many other features like electronic invoicing, and ACH wire transfer. At all times, you want to have access to your accounting data. Plus, you want the accountant to be available to discuss urgent matters any time. This is possible when the accountant has opted for cloud services.
Ask About Accounting Software
Before you choose an accountant, you’ll want to ask what software they recommend for their small business customers. You may find some accountants who are using the same old desktop accounting software. They do not want to switch to the latest online accounting solutions. You want to invest in an accounting software system that you can grow into in 3-5 years. You also want an accountant who can teach you how to use your software and set up your initial chart of accounts. You should also inquire about whether they could help you get a discount on your accounting software.
Leverage Social Media
These days most accountants are active on different social media platforms. In fact, having a profile on LinkedIn should be a must for any working accountant or accounting firm. You want to see if they have a profile and if they have any recommendations from customers. That is social proof that they have an active business and are highly recommended for their expertise by at least a few customers.
Choosing the Right Accountant for Your Business
Choosing the Right Accountant: Hiring a Firm Versus an Inside Accountant
Many entrepreneurs who launch their own businesses start out by wearing the accountant’s hat and doing your own taxes, in addition to doing just about everything else in the business, too. It’s become easier for a layperson to keep track of a business’ finance with the advent of simple bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks, Quicken, and Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. But there comes a time in a growing enterprise when it makes sense to hand over responsibilities for taxes, accounting, and the rest of the financial functions to specialists.
Choosing the Right Accountant: When Is It Time?
Many small businesses don’t have the volume of financial transactions that necessitate hiring a full-time — or even part-time — bookkeeper or accountant on staff. Then again, the financial situation of their business is such that they could benefit from more regular financial review and planning and up-to-date accounting — instead of leaving every invoice, receipt, and ledger to hand off to the tax preparer at the close of the fiscal year.
When the business grows in revenue and the transactions become more complicated, it is time to consider hiring a full- or part-time inside accountant. Since the outside accountant’s fee grows with the size of the business, the owner may see some cost savings by bringing some of the work in-house.
Choosing the Right Accountant: The Key Qualifications
After determining whether you will hire an inside or outside accountant, you need to determine what qualifications your accountant should have before beginning your search. A non-certified accountant may be precisely what you need to handle your business’ financial statements, analysis, and bookkeeping. However, when it comes to tax advice and return preparation, business owners usually look to accountants who are certified and licensed. Here are some of the qualifications you may look for:
Choosing the Right Accountant: Finding a Referral
For an outside accountant, find out who and/or which firms your friends and colleagues are using. Ask people in similar industries for names or referrals. Mention that you are looking for an accountant at the country club or health club. “Word of mouth is one of the best ways to identify good candidates for your business,” Chamberlain says. “Maybe your corporate attorney can make a recommendation. Your industry trade association also can be a good resource.”
tips for small businesses on selecting the right accountant
- Make finding an accountant one of the very first things that you do when starting your business. Working with an accountant during the startup phase is the best way to ensure that your company is in compliance in terms of taxes. Your accountant can also help you manage any expenses related to getting your company up and running.
- Choose someone who is qualified. These accounts in Hounslow recommend that you consider hiring an accountant who belongs to a group like ICAS, ICAEW, or ACCA. In order to become members of these organizations, accountants have to prove that they are qualified.
- Look for an accountant who is familiar with your industry. An accountant who has experience working with other small businesses in fields similar to your own can usually do a better job of providing you with knowledgeable advice. For instance, if you are a freelancer, you should avoid hiring a general accountant. Instead, look for someone who specializes in situations like yours.
- Evaluate the fees. When hiring an accountant, take a look at the specific fees that they charge and how those fees are calculated. Some companies charge a flat rate on a monthly or annual basis. Find out if there are any start-up fees or fees if you close your account. Discuss extra charges for services that aren’t included in the typical workload of the accountant.
- Consider the services that the company offers. All accountants offer standard services like managing payroll, handling annual accounts for limited companies, and managing HMRC. Look at some of the specialized services that they offer, as well. For instance, will they help you with your self-assessment returns or do they offer IFA services?
TIPS ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING AN ACCOUNTANT
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
How to choose an accountant for your small business
Why should I hire you?
Hiring an accountant can be “even more important” than taking on a member of staff, says Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). “If you get the wrong person, you can miss out on things you should know,” he explains, “and that can be very costly.”
Could my money work harder?
James Richardson is a company director at Metric, an accountancy firm specialising in start-ups. He says most people believe an accountant will just be looking after annual accounts and tax compliance. However, “that’s only a small portion of what a good accountant can – and should – be doing for you.”
Are we a good match?
The right accountant will have more than just prestige – it’s important they understand small business needs, and are able to offer relevant insight.
Are things working out?
Once you’ve chosen an accountant, measuring their performance is an ongoing process. Chung says a great way to do this is to hold monthly meetings where you can ask for their view on the business and its finances. “If their view is close to yours, that’s a good sign,” she says. “But you do still want to see a degree of challenge and initiative – if you only hear what you expect, that’s not a good sign.”