Wren Accounting Services Limited

Here are the 10 questions to ask before choosing your next accountant

So you’ve finally took the plunge and gone self-employed or started a small business.

You now have to spin all the plates at once and manage countless tasks within the business which can become rather stressful.

That is without having to worry about bookkeeping, managing your finances and the one we all love, dealing with tax.

You understand how important finances are to the longevity of your business but it can often feel like a daunting task.

So you know you need help and it’s time to look for an experienced accountant to organise your finances so you can focus on growing your business.

But how do you know if you’ve found the right professional for you? What questions should you ask before choosing a new accountant?

To help you out, we have summarised our 10 most important questions to ask when looking for a new accountant.

1. What are your qualifications?

Probably one of the most important questions you can ask and most business owners don’t even consider this. 

Many accountants refer to themselves as accountants regardless of background and qualifications, as the term accountant is not regulated.

A qualified accountant will belong to a professional body and be required to comply with the ethics, training and standards set by their professional body.

Ask to see their membership certificate and check the register of members.

Gill Calvert is an AAT Licensed Accountant and you can find her details here https://www.aat.org.uk/licensed-members/directory .

2. How do you charge fees?

Understanding the fees you will be charged needs to be established at the start.

Accountants typically charge a set fee for the service provided or on time incurred basis.

Make sure you receive clear details of the fees you will be charged in advance and in writing.

3.How often should we be in contact and who arranges meetings?

The last thing you need is to be hit with late charges for not filing documents on time.

It is important to check if your accountant has a proactive approach.

Find out if they will send reminders when it is time to submit accounts, or if they will be in touch to schedule the meetings.

Establish how often you will be in touch, and via what medium meetings will take place (face-to-face, email, phone, Skype etc).

4. How will you be able to help me prepare with regard to paying tax?

A good accountant will help you be as tax efficient as possible and provide advice that will better prepare your finances for the future.

5. What changes of circumstance should I inform you about?

While you will often create a long term plan with your accountant, there is no denying life will get in the way and circumstances change. 

The sooner you inform your account, the more prepared they can be in creating a new plan.

Examples of such circumstances are:

  • Change in marital status
  • Start another business
  • Buy/sell a property
  • Decide to retire

6. How can you help me improve the health of my finances?

Experienced accountants are incredibly detailed in the way they go about their work and will help you plan and prepare your finances.

This will save you time but will also give you an expert set of eyes to save you any costly errors, but will also help save you money by implementing minor changes, or by offering simple advice when it comes to your spending habits.

7. Are there any basic mistakes I am making?

There may be small alterations you can make that could yield financially significant results.

Make sure you get the most out of your association, and (figuratively) bleed them dry for information and assistance. You are, after all, paying for their help!

8. What records do I need to keep and what documentation do I need to retain?

You know that when you run a business you need to keep financial records, but which records should you keep?

Make sure you get this accountant up front so you can easily stay up to date without panicking at the year end

Also ask for advice on the latest technology such as cloud based accounting to make this job simpler whilst giving the business powerful tools to run their business better.

Also note from April 2023 Making Tax Digital (MTD) will be extended to the self-employed and landlords. This will amongst other things mandate digital record keeping – is the accountant ready for this massive change in personal tax?

9. How have you been able to help people in similar circumstances?

Although accountants can’t give you intimate details of previous client relations, they can give you a broad overview of people they have helped.

Find out if they have helped people in similar circumstances or industries to yourself, then they will likely be able to offer expert advice based on prior experience and tangible outcomes.

10. Who will be my main point of contact?

It is important you know exactly who you are dealing with. Speak to your accountant on the phone or, even better, meet them face-to-face to discuss the particulars of your situation. It is likely you will be in contact with your accountant regularly, so it might be possible that you will end up speaking to a colleague or associate, too. Ensure you know who you are likely to be dealing with.

As always if you need some personal advice, or wish to go through the 10 Questions with Wren Accounting, then click the link below to get in touch.

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