Choosing an Accountant – 7 Important Questions to Ask

Whether you are a sole trader or part of a multi-national company, there may come a time during your career where you require the services of a professional accountant. Now if this is the case, it is important that you not only find out what their costs, products and services are, but that you determine if they are the right fit for you.

Below are some helpful questions that can help you to find the right accountant for your business.

1. What experience do they have in your industry?

Whilst their qualifications are important, it is also beneficial if they have knowledge and experience in your industry. By understanding the pressures you face and how this can affect your financial position, they can provide you with more valuable advice. Similarly, if you are a start-up or are a global organisation, you need to consider the question: are they equipped to deal with your needs?

2. What services do they offer?

Not every accountant is the same and their service offerings can vary from company to company. In fact, you may find that some only offer specialist services. For this reason, you first need to determine your needs – do you want a general accountancy service or do you have specific requirements – and then you need to use this information to narrow down your search.

3. How do they operate?

In the past, accountants traditionally did everything by paper. These days – and thanks to the digital era that we live in – you will find a mix between those who still prefer paperwork and those who can handle your business finances via online portals and software.

As a result, you need to decide on the kind of relationship you want with your accountant, and which method you would work best for you and your business.

4. What are their contact methods?

Whilst you might not need access to your accountant 24 hours a day, there will be times where you’ll need their advice and guidance. Because of this, it is good to know all the various ways you can contact them, so you are never left hanging.

Similarly, you need to consider their own business setup. For instance, if they are self-employed and have only got a small team, then you may struggle to get a hold of them during key times of the year e.g. during your self-assessment.

We recommend speaking to potential accountants and asking them about the best and most efficient ways to contact them. Whether this is leaving them a voice message or sending them an email; don’t be afraid to ask as it is better to know now than later.

5. How can they help your business to expand and grow?

Most businesses want to expand at some stage in a bid to stay in the game. Key to achieving this is keeping a tight hold of your finances and developing your understanding of how you can help it to grow. This is where having an accountant can help…

By getting to know your business and your sector, they can help you to understand the value of your business and help you to maintain accurate financial records. In turn, they can assist you with: costing your services/products so you stay on top of the game; streamlining your overheads and costs, and keeping your business lean and financially responsive.

Most importantly, they can give you advice on financial matters and how to raise finances to enable your expansion.

6. How can they help you to deal with legal issues?

You’ll be surprised to know that it’s not just lawyers who offer you advice on legal issues. If these issues are related to finances or taxes, an accountant can lend you advice and even offer you specific services/packages for dealing with them.

7. How can you help yourself?

Professional accountants can help you in a variety of ways; however, taking steps to expand your own knowledge and understanding on this subject can really help.

From enrolling onto online accountancy courses to simply learning how to handle your own bookkeeping; all can help you to better understand the advice the accountant gives you.

Choosing an accountant doesn’t have to be a scary or daunting prospect. Simply utilise the questions above during your search and you can offer your business a stepping stone to a stronger financial position, as well as the tools to initiate growth.

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