How to choose the right accountant

A great accountant can bring a lot to your business. They do much more than simply prepare your tax returns at the end of the financial year. A good accountant can also provide tailored advice and guidance to help your business grow and achieve success.

With this in mind, here is a quick guide to help you find the right accountant for your business size, industry and needs.

Look at their qualifications.

Unfortunately, there are some less than reputable accounting businesses in the industry so before starting with a new accountant, you need to check they are fully qualified.

A good tip to make sure an accountant has all the right qualifications is to find out whether or not they hold an ICAEW (The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).

ICAEW accreditation means an accountant holds advanced accounting qualifications. They are degree qualified, have completed postgraduate studies and hold a practicing certificate with one of the major accounting industry bodies. They are also obliged to keep up to date with accounting and business practices.

Software – A good quality accountant should be adept in a range of accounting software programmes or able to quickly get a feel for new ones. This will allow them to simply log in to online accounting programme, whether they are assisting you with a simple tax return or using more advanced online payroll software.

Knowledge of your industry – Many industries have particular accounting processes and requirements. If your business is in one of these industries, it would be a good idea to look for an accounting firm whose particular expertise matches your specific accounting needs.

Otherwise, you could ask whether or not the prospective accountant has experience working with clients in your industry.

Another good thing to check is that the accountant’s knowledge of your business structure. Do they have experience working with family businesses, trusts, partnerships, self-managed super funds, not-for-profit organisations, multi nationals, subsidiaries or franchises?

Personality – Most accountants should be happy to meet with you for an initial chat at no cost. This is a good opportunity to get a feel for whether or not the firm and the individual accountant is a good fit for your business.

Size of the firm – Larger firms can have greater access to resources, but you want to make sure you still have a personal connection with your accountant and that you won’t be treated as a ‘number’.

Think about what you do and don’t like about the accountants you have worked with in the past. Be upfront with the prospective accountant you are meeting. Let them know your expectations and make sure they align with what the new accountant can deliver.

Reputation – This is a simple but effective way to determine whether or not an accountant is right for your business.

If you have any friends or colleagues with successful businesses you could ask which accountant they use, or if there is someone they would recommend. Otherwise simply ask a prospective accountant if they could provide a client testimonial for you to check.

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