Choosing an Accountant
Choosing an Accountant discussed by Hayvenhursts Chartered Accountants
Whether you are an existing business that has grown and you need a new accountant, you are looking for a new accountancy firm or you are a new business looking for an accountant then our ‘Choosing an Accountant’ article will help you understand what you should look for in the services and the accountant you choose.
Choosing the right account for both you and your business is essential and each accountant or accountancy service is unique so you need to spend the time to ensure you choose the right one.
Accountants have different specialities, skills, strengths, weaknesses, experience, qualifications and accreditations so it’s sometimes difficult to understand which one is going to support your business to succeed and grow.
Understanding your business and its accountancy needs now and in the future, if you are looking to grow your business is critical to ensuring you choose the right accountant and services.
Identifying the Accountancy and Financial Needs of your Business
Understand your Business
- What does your business do (sell a product and/or service)?
- What industry are you in?
- What is your turnover?
- How many people do you employ?
- How many clients/customers do you work with and how regularly?
- How much can you afford to spend on an accountant?
Identify the Core Accountancy Needs of your Business Now and in the Future
- Monthly payroll
- Managing invoices
- Paying taxes
- Balancing your books
- Company audits
- Advising you on profit & loss, company growth & key financial decisions
- Supporting you with strategic growth plans
- Compiling forecasts, budgets and projections
A key question to ask yourself, do you need an accountant who has experience in the industry or sector your business falls within, or are you happy they work across varying business sectors?
Ask other local businesses for recommendations and ask them about their experiences with anyone they recommend.
Search online and look at local accountancy firms that have a professional website, detail the services they offer and the support they provide. Look at their qualifications and experiences. Often an accountancy firm is your better option as a single accountant can leave you exposed when they are on holiday or if they are unwell.
You should always look for an accountancy firm which doesn’t just offer you accountancy tasks but a company who will get to know your business and work alongside you to provide support and advice when you need it. A good accountant will work with you to identify savings, tax breaks, improve cash flow and business efficiencies and this will leave you to focus on running, growing and improving your business.
A Chartered Accountant will do more than just accountancy tasks, they will give you business advice and information for current and future financial aspects, and will have a broad understanding of your business to quickly identify its needs and how it can become more financially stable and profitable.
Choosing an Accountant Considerations
You can call whenever you need to – Look for an accountant who you can call whenever you need help and advice without being charged every time you speak to them.
Understanding & Trust – Look for an accountant you can speak to openly and honestly about your business, its needs now and in the future.
Communication – Look for an accountant who understands what you are saying and who talks you through your financials without jargon so you can easily understand them.
Commercial Awareness – Find an accountant who will listen and learn about your business, your ideas and you will get a feel for how commercial they are. Do they understand your business clearly and how can they support you to meet your plans and simplify your financials?
Face to Face – often when you are looking for a new accountant they will want a telephone call with you, however, you are better to meet with them face to face as you’ll get a better feel for what they are about and if you feel you can work with them. Ask them if they will visit you for an initial consultation free of charge which good professional accountants will do. Always remember they are providing a service to you so you shouldn’t have to spend time travelling, finding parking and waiting to see them and they should be trying to secure your business.
Tax Ideas & Information – When you meet with them and have given them an overview and summary of your business ask them what tax ideas they have for you. You want an accountant who will pro-actively come up with new ideas to improve the running and the financials of your business.
Meetings – Always prepare for your meetings with your accountant to ensure you get the most out of them. Let them know beforehand what you want to cover and ask them if they have any items they want to discuss and review. This will ensure they are prepared and know what you are expecting from them.
Communication Channels – Ask how they prefer to communicate (telephone, meetings, email) and always check that they are happy to use email as it speeds up their service and will save you money. It’s also a good idea to ask them what their service level response times are to ensure an email doesn’t sit in their inbox for days on end without you getting a response.
Response Times – A great way to see how pro-active a company is, is to send them an enquiry via their website and see how quickly they respond and in what tone. If you don’t receive a quick response then this often indicates how quickly you will receive responses from them when they are working for you.
Fees – Ensure they are clear and concise about their fees, charging structure and payment schedule. If you ask them to do work on something outside of your regular agreement then always get a quote in writing to ensure their fee doesn’t spiral out of control. Don’t worry about hourly rates, it’s the value of what you get that matters and the more experienced accountants with higher hourly rates tend to do the work a lot more quickly and efficiently. If they are charging you an hourly rate and they do regular monthly work for your business then ask them to give you their estimated time spent and costs each month in writing. Also, request that they advise you beforehand if this is going to change. Don’t always go with the first accountant you meet, finding out about other accountants will help you compare them and their services to ensure you make the right decision.
It is important to compare like for like services of accountants as the more expensive packages may be “fully inclusive”, compared to those that are cheaper, however, you will be charged for extra services e.g. completion of your personal tax return, P11D, registered office address and so on.
Review their Website – Does it look professional; does it give the feel you are looking for from your accountant and does it detail the services they offer. Is it easy to navigate and does it give you lots of other services including advice blogs and news updates?
Dedicated Accountant – Find out who you will be dealing with and if they will solely be looking after you. You should be looking for an accountant that gets to know you and your business which enables them to provide you with individual advice and recommendations. Using an accountancy firm who doesn’t give you an allocated resource can be frustrating and time consuming for you.
Services – Do they offer all the services that you need now, and in the short and long term as once you have got to know your accountant it is time consuming to find another one you trust. It takes time for an accountant to understand your business so it’s best to plan for the services you need now and in the future.
Accountancy Software – Find out which accountancy software they use and what will be available to you and your business to make your life easier if you work together. Good and reputable firms will offer independent cloud-based accounting solutions and are able to transfer most accountant information across to them for you. Often having these systems will simplify your accounting and save you time and money along the way.
Fixed Timescales & Service Levels – Ensure they agree in writing fixed timescales for when work will be done and any service level agreements.
Existing Clients – It’s always a good idea to ask to speak with some of their existing clients to see what they say about them.
Engagement Letter – Always ask for a copy of their engagement letter, make sure everything you need is included and ensure they keep to it. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you aren’t receiving the service you agreed and expect.
Listen, Talk and Act – Do they listen to you or mostly talk at you? You should always look for an accountant who takes an interest in you and your business, offers advice, recommendations and acts on what you need them to quickly.
At Ease – How comfortable do you feel with your accountant, only you will know and you will only get the best out of their service if you feel you can work well with them.
Qualifications – Check the qualifications your accountant has. Chartered accountants who have chosen to specialise will have professional accountancy qualifications and code of ethics, which will give you peace of mind they know what they are doing and have ethical working practices. To qualify as a Chartered Accountant, you qualify with a specialised bachelor’s degree in accounting, followed by a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) which is offered as a postgraduate honours degree, or as a postgraduate diploma dependent on the university attended.
Institute Membership – A Chartered Accountant will have a membership in either the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). These organisations only allow membership after the necessary financial and accountancy qualifications have been gained and after their 3-years of work experience has been undertaken so always check this.
Regulated by Professional Bodies – A Chartered Accountant is a professionally qualified individual that is bound by a code of ethics and professional standards. They will have set policies and procedures in place, professional indemnity insurance, complaints and disciplinary procedures, as well as undergoing regular monitoring of compliance and quality reviews of their professional practice, giving you peace of mind that their advice and guidance is accurate, measured and monitored.
Choose a Reputable Chartered Accountancy Firm
A Chartered Accountant will help and advise you on many aspects of your business however big or small it is. Having a dedicated Chartered Accountancy firm that you work with ensures they have a good understanding of your business, its operation and its financial status. Every business is different and a good Chartered Accountancy firm will adapt their services to meet the needs of your business and will help you plan and make changes for the future.
Chartered Accountants are bound by a code of ethics to uphold a set of professional principles as set out by the ICAEW, in summary: Chartered Accountants are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of professional conduct and to take into consideration the public interest. Ethical behaviour by Chartered Accountants plays a vital role in ensuring public trust in financial reporting and business practices and upholding the reputation of the accountancy profession. A professional and practising Chartered Accountant means demonstrating a commitment to maintaining and developing professional standards, to give you the peace of mind that yours or your businesses financial interests are always put first.
You can search for a Chartered Accountant through the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Hayvenhursts Chartered Accountant Services
From our offices in Cardiff, We offer a personal and professional service focused on the needs of each individual customer, business or family across South Wales.
Our service and reputation is built on our ability to understand your business plans for the short, medium and long term to ensure we are by your side and can support you when you need us. We have the expertise and experience to refine and distil key business decisions and possible outcomes and are always thinking, advising and refining your tax position as needed.
If you are a new ‘start-up’ business looking for an accountant for the first time, or an established business looking for more from your accountant then we can provide you with the best accountancy services in South Wales and the surrounding areas.
We take the time to work alongside you to understand your business, its needs, your needs and your business plans, and we offer the personal services of a local accountant with the infrastructure and experience of a large national accountancy practice.
Choosing an accountant is an important and critical decision for you and your business and you should take the time to find one which matches your needs, one you feel comfortable with, one you can trust and an accountant whose fees are fair and competitive.
We are proud that you can call us whenever you need accountancy help or advice without being charged every time you pick up the phone to us and this is a commitment we make to our clients. We want you to feel comfortable to contact us whenever you need to and for whatever you want. You will always receive good, honest, sound and understandable advice, and we will work with you in the way that suits you; in person, on the phone or online.
Hayvenhursts Accountancy Services
- Accounts Preparation
- Bank Accounts
- Book-keeping Healthcheck
- Business Growth
- Business Healthcheck
- Business Plans
- Business Valuations
- Commercial Property
- Company Formation
- Company Secretarial
- Contractors and IR35
- Inheritance Tax Planning
- Management Accounts & Information
- Management Systems
- PAYE Healthcheck
- Payroll & PAYE Returns
- Personal Tax
- Property Tax
- Raising Finance
- Reduce your SRA Audit Costs
- Registered Office
- Strategic Planning
- Tax Disputes
- Tax Enquiries & investigations
- Tax Planning
- Tax Returns & Self-Assessment
- VAT Healthcheck
- VAT Planning & Disputes
- VAT Registration
- VAT Returns
If you are in the process of choosing an Accountant then contact us today on 02920 777 756 and we will answer any questions you have, or we can arrange for one of our Chartered Accountant experts to call you or come out and meet with you at a time convenient to you.