Whether you are looking to start a business, are already in a business, or require basic tax advice for your personal self-assessment tax return, you will need to look for a suitable accountant to advise you on all relevant matters. If you have been in business before and have previous dealings with an accountant, appointing a new accountant would seem fairly straight forward as you have experience of dealing with one. However, a careful approach should be adopted to ensure a suitable professional is appointed for a long-lasting professional relationship.
Like lawyers and doctors, you should expect your accountant to be professionally qualified and hold an accreditation with a recognized professional accounting body like AAT, ACCA, ICAEW, and IFA. A recognized accounting qualification ensures that a good level of knowledge is there which helps form a basic understanding of the fundamentals which are needed to support the accounting function your business. Holder of accreditation with a professional accounting body is also likely to be aware of and be complying with standards set by the organization. These bodies also have accountability procedures that ensure your appointed accountant keeps the service level to a high standard.
If you run a specialist business in a niche market, it is also important to understand whether an accountant has experience in helping similar businesses to yours. Compliance requirements can be different for some businesses to those of others i.e. Doctors operating GP practices have more compliance matters than those of a GP providing LOCUM service through their own Personal Service Company – Limited Company. You should also enquire if an accountant has experience of dealing with a business structured as yours, as compliance requirements are different for Private Limited Companies limited by shares to those of a company limited by guarantee and a Limited Liability Partnership. Community Interest Companies are also slightly different and compliance and filing requirements for a registered charity are very different altogether.
It is vital to the effective management of any business to ensure suitable software solutions are used for bookkeeping in particular, and for other operations of the business. Many accountants have moved ahead with time and now partner with leading bookkeeping software solutions including Quickbooks, Xero, and FreeAgent. These solutions use automation to reduce your input and provide live reporting on the business’ Profit and Loss and Cashflow performance. Accountants are connected with this software using their own Partner accounts and become your one-stop support for accounting and software queries.
Latest Data Capturing solutions such as ReceiptBank are also very useful for scanning expense and supplier invoices which then integrate with your bookkeeping solution, saving you time. It is therefore wise to check if your accountant would support you for such integration.
Annual Accounts and Tax filing are standard compliance service which you can expect from an accountant, however, accountants now position themselves as complete financial solution providers, supporting their client’s tax strategies whereas the company and its shareholders/directors are supported with advice on the most tax-efficient company structures and best splits between remuneration and dividends. These accountant Walsall are a good example of what modern accountants do to support their clients for tax efficiency and other support services.
Many Accountants now also partner with lenders and brokers to support clients for their funding requirements. These may include overdraft facilities to support your business for working capital management, Asset Finance to help the business for plant and machinery or commercial vehicle purchase, Invoice Finance or Invoice Discounting Facilities to support business growth, and commercial mortgages to help buy a freehold property.
For most small businesses, in particular, it does come down to what an accountant quotes that drives the decision to appoint one. While affordability is an important aspect and any fee should be based on a business’ size and financial position, an accountant’s fee should be looked at in comparison with the value the firm is likely to generate in your business. An accountant Walsall quoting £1,000 to file to all accounts and tax returns may appear an attractive proposition when compared with a firm quoting £2,500, however, if the second firm offers a value-based service covering your business for services such as tax planning, funding, and regular reporting on company’s profit and financial performance then it is the second firm which is likely to generate more value for your investment.
For most businesses, approaching a firm of accountants can be daunting especially for those starting up a new business. Many businesses suffer for years due to poor accounting support as the thought of having to move from an accountant to another can also appear daunting. I however believe that while appointing a new accountant is important, distancing yourself and your business from an unsuitable one is even more important. Any decision should be based on the key aspects covered above.