Do you have an accountant, and is your accountant good for your business? If you haven’t appointed one yet, how will you know when you’ve found the right one?
Just as in all walks of life, accountants can be excellent, or not worth having. If they are qualified members of one of the professional organisations, they will at least be competent in the basics. If they are not qualified, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are no good. Many excellent accountants have plenty of experience but no qualifications.
What Makes the Difference?
What you really want, in addition to the basic competencies, is someone with knowledge and experience of your type of business, and the markets in which you compete. But you don’t want them to have any conflicts of interest. It’s not a good idea to have the same accountant as your biggest rival, for example.
How to Find the Right Accountant
Many people feel more confident if they choose someone who has been recommended. But you still need to know the person has the right kind of experience for your circumstances. Ask probing questions, then listen carefully and respond to the answers.
If you want to be sure of having a qualified accountant, you can check the membership lists of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Choosing a suitable member gives you the comfort of knowing they will undertake ongoing training to keep up to date, and will probably have professional indemnity insurance. It also means you have a complaints procedure to follow, if you are not happy with them.
Shortlist two or three and arrange to meet them. If the accountant has lots of questions for you, it probably means he or she is careful to find suitable clients and will do a good job for you. Be truthful in your answers. If there are problems in the business finances or in your background, they need to be aired up front.
Don’t forget to discuss your choices with your outsourced bookkeepers. They will have experience of working with accountants, and may have valuable input that will help with your decision making.
Nurture the Working Relationship
When you have found an accountant with the right experience and expertise, who will care about your business and be keen to help it succeed, you should be sure to forge and maintain a good working relationship. While you don’t want to get too familiar with your accountant, you do want to maintain mutual respect and strike the right balance between professionalism and friendliness.