With so many accountants and accountancy firms out there to choose from, how can you tell whether or not a particular accountant is right for your business? Finding the right accountant is about more than choosing someone you can work with on a personal level, you need to be able to trust that your accountant is proactive and reliable, and therefore, going to be an asset for your business.
Here are four important criteria that will tell you if you’ve found the right accountant for your business.
1. They have a plan of action for Brexit
The aftermath of the EU Referendum result has already caused massive political and economical change in the U.K. While there’s no way of knowing yet exactly how Brexit will impact us in the future, we must prepare for it as much as possible if our businesses are to run smoothly in the coming months and years.
According to London based chartered accountancy firm 3 Wise Bears, your accountant should be able to give you advice on how you can stabilise your cash flow now, how removing the free movement of people could effect your business and/or industry, and how Brexit could affect your profitability in both the short and the long term.
Being not just Brexit aware but ready shows that your accountancy firm is malleable and proactive, thinking about your business first. They should be ready to offer you advice, without you having to chase them for it.
For example, with regards to stabilising your cash flow, a good accountant should suggest that you carry out a cost auditing exercise, so that you can determine together whether or not there are any expenditures your business can afford to do without. This should be standard procedure in the event of any market turbulence, and Brexit has thus far shown itself to cause just that.
2. They have great references from within your industry
Finding an accountant with great recommendations, or good reviews, is as simple as searching for ‘accountant’ on Google. But online reviews and a strong rank position does not necessarily mean you’ll be working with the right accountant for your business. This is particularly important if your business has to comply with specific tax laws which are unique to your industry.
Look for accountants with great references within your field. Many accountants have chosen speciality industries and advertise this clearly, but some won’t. Instead you’ll have to enquire to find out if they have experience working in your industry. Ask for references or examples of how they’ve worked with businesses like yours.
You can also look for companies of a similar size and industry to you and get recommendations from them; assuming they aren’t competitors. Check forums or business sites for tips or warnings about companies. Remember to take everything you read, the good and the bad, with a pinch of salt.
Finding an accountant with a deep understanding of your industry will ensure they are better prepared to respond to your businesses needs. For example, an accountant with experience working for businesses in the tech industry might find it a bit more difficult to get to grips with the needs of a boutique ad agency as swiftly as someone who already has experience working for businesses in the advertising field. This isn’t for all accountants but it can make trusting your new accountant that much easier knowing they have relevant experience.
3. They have experience of businesses at your size
It’s also a good idea to find an accountant who has shown through their reference list that they work well with businesses of a similar size to yours, because new/small businesses have very different qualities and needs to those large businesses. Sometimes this means working with smaller accountancy firms who can offer not only a more one-to-one approach to your enquiries but also are in a similar position to you if you are a small business. This works vice versa too.
4. They go the extra mile
According to James Richardson, a company director at the accountancy firm Metric, a good accountant should do more for you than just look after your tax compliance and annual accounts.
For example, the right accountant can help your business raise money by looking for any government funding, tax relief schemes, and grants which your business might be eligible for. They can use their financial expertise to help with crowdfunding, finding new investors, and they can even help you sell your business’s shares if need be.
Richardson told The Guardian that people only tend to ask his firm if they can balance their business’s books, but you should be asking your accountant about what your business is entitled to that you don’t know about. That way you’ll know that your accountant is worth every penny you spend on them.