How to choose an Accountant?

Accountant Choice

Choosing an Accountant can be one of the most important decisions you take when starting a new business.  A good Accountant will become similar to a Business Partner – a trusted colleague who offers advice and guidance to help you manage and grow your business.  The first question many may ask….

Do I need an Accountant?

You may believe a small business or start-up  is not big enough to warrant the services of an Accountant but this is not the case! Unless you are an expert in Tax and Finance, an Accountant will provide you with essential support.  The cost of Accountants fees will be more than covered by the savings in time and money they will offer you.

An Accountant can give new business advice on Legal Formations, Business Plans, Tax and can even set up your Business with Companies House and HMRC.  Some Accountants will administer the Book Keeping requirements for your new business or they will assist you in setting up computerised or manual systems for yourself.

Whether your business is just starting or growing an Accountant can assist with finding the right method of finance with minimal risk.  And once finance is secured they can help with controls to ensure the growth is adequately managed, such as working capital management, profitability reviews, credit control and stock control.  Not forgetting the ability of a good Accountant to minimise the Tax burden of your business.

Now that we have explained the benefits of having an Accountant lets progress…

How do I choose the Right Accountant?

Unfortunately the term ‘Accountant’ is not regulated therefore anyone can call themselves an Accountant regardless of their education, qualification or experience.  There are numerous ‘cowboys’ that have no real experience or knowledge of the industry – they may badly advise clients and cost £££’s in fines and penalties!  So what assurance do you have that your Accountant is capable of completing the work to the highest level?

There are several Qualified Accounting bodies that assure all members have passed minimum levels of education and experience.  These bodies also ensure that their members have adequate levels of insurances and continuity cover to safeguard the clients should anything go wrong. The main Accounting bodies in Scotland are:

An Accountant who is registered with one of these bodies will adhere to rules, standards, ethics and guidelines as published by their regulating body.  It is highly recommended when choosing an Accountant you check they are registered with one of these bodies.  You can check each bodies website for a list of registered members in your area.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

CIMA members are not only financially qualified like all the other Accounting bodies but are also professionally trained in Business Management.  These Accountants have spent time working within different businesses assisting with daily financial and risk management.  They have experience of working within the business unlike some of the other bodies that tend to focus mainly on working only in Accounting Practices.  Therefore with a CIMA Accountant you are more likely to get an Accountant that will integrate into your business and become a true Business Partner.

Personality matters!

Your Accountant must be professional and friendly and you must be able to trust them.  If you feel you cant trust them, they may be the best qualified Accountant with all the relevant experience, but they are not the Accountant for you.  They must also have similar business beliefs and ideas to you – it is pointless employing an Accountant who wastes paper and other resources if you are ethically green.

Your Accountant will become intimately involved with the operations of your business so it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.  If you and your Accountant just don’t ‘click’ its time to move on.  Changing your Accountant is easy – your newly appointed Accountant will do the switch for you, often for no charge.

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 Accountant will be your partner in all but name – and as long as you choose wisely, you can’t go wrong.

Tips for Finding the Right Accountant for you.

  1. Try to choose an Accountant early in the process of starting your business
  2. Seek recommendations from businesses already using Accountants
  3. Research online testimonials or ask for client references
  4. Confirm they are qualified and registered with a regulatory body
  5. Book an initial meeting to gauge your personalities and business ideas are compliant
  6. Ask for a full break down of their fees and charges
  7. Do they hold Professional Indemnity Insurance?
  8. Look for an Accountant with a proactive service – working with you throughout the year
  9. Remember if it doesn’t work out – you can easily change Accountant!

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