By Donna Torres, Director of SMB & Commercial Operations, UK & EMEA
There’s no denying it. An accountant’s advice can be invaluable. So it’s not surprising that 80% of British small businesses work with one.
When working with the right advisor, entrepreneurs are more confident about succeeding, get less stressed, work less, and generally enjoy running their business more.
But we also know that a quarter of business owners said they are likely to switch accountants. So once you’ve decided it’s time to hire an accountant, the next step is to choose the right advisor for you.
It’s important to take the time to do this carefully, and there are a few things you’ll want to consider first. You’ll need to think about issues such as the accountant’s location, the division of workload and the type of accounting software you’ll use. Consider how much you’ll have to pay the accountant, and whether they can help to reduce your business taxes.
It’s in your company’s best interests to have an experienced, capable person handling one of the most important areas of your business – your finances. The right person will save you time and money year after year. So here are some things you should consider when you’re choosing an accountant.
With more firms collaborating online, location isn’t always the clincher today.
With cloud accounting, you and your accountant can view identical real-time data at the same time – no matter where you are.
The decision about where to find your accountant really comes down to what suits your company best. Depending on how you want to handle the finances, your accountant could really be based anywhere in the world.
For example, if you’re happy to collaborate via email, phone calls, video-conferences, or secure accounting software, then you could be in New York and they could be in London. If your accountant can be anywhere in the world, you don’t need to make compromises based on their location. You can find someone who really understands the specifics of your business or industry.
On the other hand, you may prefer face-to-face contact and find it useful to have someone who’s able to go to business meetings with you. If this is the case, then you’ll need to limit your search to accountants who work nearby or are willing to travel to your premises from time to time.
Wherever they happen to be based, make sure they’re an expert in the tax laws that apply to your business.
Lines of communication
Accountants should regularly check in with their clients. You don’t want to feel neglected. You should feel that your accountant is interested in your business, and invested in its success.
They should also make you aware of any legislation or changes to tax submission in good time. HMRC’s recent Making Tax Digital initiative affected millions of businesses and required digital tax submission for those over the tax threshold. A good accountant will let you know of changes like this in good time and help you to prepare.
When it comes to the success of your business, an accountant can be an invaluable advisory source. Your accountant will know your business and the ins and outs of your cash flow, and will be in a great position to advise on how to strike a balance between income and expenditure.
Accountants will in most cases have more business experience than you, as they advise other clients and have seen a wide array of businesses, that have both succeeded and failed.
By going to your accountant for financial and business advice, you’re ensuring you’re getting the maximum value from the service they’re prodiving.
Are they tech savvy?
Technology in the accounting industry is constantly developing and evolving. And your accountant should know of all the latest tools that will make things easier. You want an accountant that can recommend software that will suit your business and its needs.
Apps and payment services can integrate with cloud accounting software, to make a more seamless bookkeeping experience. For example, they might advise that you use an app such as GoCardless to speed up the payment process for you.
Good accountants help companies grow, by managing complex financial work and offering advice on practical business issues. This will be guaranteed to save you money in the short and long term. The best ones will be your partner in all but name – and as long as you choose wisely, you can’t go wrong.
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