Choosing an accountant – Important questions you should ask
Posted on 22nd Apr 2022
What questions should I ask when choosing a new accountant?
It’s vital that you choose the right accountant to work with you to grow your business…
But… do you know what questions you should be asking to find the right accountant?
In this video, Kim talks about important questions you should ask when choosing a new accountant for you and your business.
Have you ever wondered what questions you should ask when looking to change Accountants? It’s a big decision and you don’t want to get it wrong,
Hi, I’m Kim Marlor from Krystal-clear accounting and in this video, we’ll look at the questions you need to ask so you engage the right accountant for you and don’t make any costly mistakes.
Q1) Are they Qualified
Ensure the accountant you choose is qualified – unfortunately, accountant is not a protected term, so anyone can use it. It’s quite scary to think anyone can set up in business and call themselves an accountant.
By ensuring they are qualified it will mean they will be regulated by their professional body and continue to keep up to date.
They will have passed professional exams in the first place which proves a level of professional competency
The main bodies to look out for are: –
CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
ACCA – The association of chartered certified accountants
There are others but these are the main ones in the UK.
Q2) Ensure they understand your personal and business goals.
Did they even ask, or did they jump straight in with the usual accounts and tax services offering without considering if that is really going to help you achieve your goals! Most accountants will talk about the services they offer and not consider what issues or problems you may be facing and even if they can help.
You might not have complete clarity on your goals or strategic direction right now, but if they have never asked how do you know they can and will help you achieve your goals.
You need to have a clear vision of where you are going, and your accountant can help to get you there. Helping and supporting you every step of the way!
You need to look strategically not just tactically, otherwise you may make short termist decisions that will take you further away from your goal.
Your accountant should be able to help you put a plan together. Most plans are out of date as soon as they are written but it’s the art of planning and thinking deeply about your business that achieves the magic! This might be just a one-page strategic plan and is definitely something to listen out for.
Q3) Do they talk your language – Do you like them and feel comfortable talking to them?
As your accountant is effectively the Finance Director on your board of directors, you need to like them and be able to work with them.
Traditionally a bank manager although less so now and the accountant will normally be a small business owner’s first point of contact if they’ve got any troubles.
You don’t want someone who talks down to you or you just don’t understand!
Do they care? Are they going to make you feel like you are the most important client they have, after all you don’t care that they may have lots of other clients that range in size from very small to very large. To You, Your business, Your family … You are the most important people!
Ask the accountant to demonstrate that they’ve done this in the past for multiple of their customers and prove it via testimonials, case studies, or videos?
Q4) What range of services do they have?
Having spoken about your issues are you clear how they can help. Have they spoken to you about the services they can offer?
Whilst you might not need a full service offering right now, it’s important that they discuss services like Management Accounts, Budgets, Plans and financial models and quarterly coaching or monthly meetings and how they would benefit you either now or in the future.
It’s important for you to understand can they grow with you, or will you soon outgrow them and need another accountant?
Q5) Are they open and transparent with their fees?
Do you understand why they are suggesting the services they are and is it clear how they can help you and your business? …you might decide you want to start with a lower service level to build trust and due to finances.
Is it a fixed fee and are there extras? Do you know how you will be billed? You should get a written proposal! Are you clear on what services you will receive and what you will need to do yourself?
There are a number of services an accountant can deliver for you and your business, and it all comes down to time and money yours and theirs!
Some people don’t want the hassle of doing anything and want the accountant to do all the bookkeeping, VAT returns, payroll, and accounts just to keep them legal and keep the tax man at bay. They value being able to sleep at night and are not stressed by the day to day of running the business and doing the accounts as well.
So, what can a good accountant do to relieve stress? Well in truth lots – some people are worried about tax, some people hate the hassle of bookkeeping, some people want estimates of the tax they will have to pay before year end. Some people value their accounts & Tax returns being done and filed way before the actual legal due date, so you are not on the last minute.
Entrepreneurial Business owners value a financial model, so they know what level of turnover and number of sales they need to do to achieve a certain earning level out of the business. They very often want monthly Management Accounts and Key Performance or a scorecard so they have an early alert system and know if their business is on track or not so they can take corrective action.
Whatever is important to you ask the accountant how they can demonstrate they’ve done this for their customers in the past!
Q6) How contactable are they?
When we are speaking to prospective clients for the first time, we hear this is a major bug bear for most people. They can never get hold of their accountant, they don’t ring them or email them back.
Do they have certain response time for emails, telephone calls and letters?
We all know people do get busy; I certainly do.
So, I can be in meetings, but if I’m in meetings, or I’m on holiday, or if I’m not directly contactable, do you have a second point of contact or a third in the office?
So, one, how contactable are they? And number two, do they have more than one point of contact? I think is really important, so you get the service level you deserve.
Q7) Have they demonstrated they understand you and your business and you feel comfortable?
Have they perhaps given some value, asked the right questions so you feel they get you and will be able to help?
They are your partner in business and the trust and confidence needs to be there.
They need to walk the talk, so it’s worth checking out how many referrals they have on Google for example of Facebook, their website and you might even want to speak to one of their clients.
Hopefully we have given you some questions to ask so you feel comfortable and in control of the process of choosing a new accountant.
If you’d like to have a chat over a coffee (Virtually or face to face) and to see what is possible, all you need to do is call me or one of my team on 0161 410 0020 or email email@example.com
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