How To Choose An Accountant

When you’re self employed, looking after your financial and tax affairs will be one of your biggest concerns. Dealing with your paperwork, invoices and tax return can be time consuming and complicated which is why many millions of small and medium sized businesses choose to employ the services of an accountant.

With hundreds of accounting firms available, how do you go about picking the right one for your business? Our guide provides some tips.

Finding an accountant

One of the best ways to find an accountant is to ask around for a recommendation. Speak to friends, family and other business owners to find out whether anyone knows an accountant that has done an excellent job for them.

Alternatively, you can head online to find details of local accountants. Use the website of one of the main professional bodies — The Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants – to find a local firm.

Five questions to ask prospective accountants

Your relationship with your accountant is likely to be a long term one and so you need a firm that is the right fit for your business. As well as making sure that your accountant has the requisite professional qualifications, you should also make sure you ask these five questions:

• Who will look after you? Is it a partner of the business or a more junior member of staff? Will there be someone that you can speak to if your personal contact is out of the office?

• What experience do they have in your business sector? Have they dealt with other clients in the same industry? Do they have experience of dealing with businesses of a similar size and turnover to yours?

• What additional services do they offer? Can they offer general business advice to help your business grow? Do they have relationships with other professionals (lawyers, banks etc) that may help you?

• How proactive are they? Will your accountant remind you when your tax return is due or when tax payments have to be made? Will they proactively get in touch with you to help manage your finances?

• What will they charge? What services do their fees cover?

It is often worth considering several accountants before you choose the one that you think is right for you. Make a shortlist of companies and speak to them all to determine which offers the service that is right for you.

Once you have found an accountant

When you have selected an accountant, they will issue a ‘letter of engagement’. This letter forms the contract between you and your accountant and should outline:

• The responsibilities of the accountant
• Your responsibilities
• Their fee structure and how they will charge you

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