Choosing the right aws accounts sell for your firm should be at the very foundation of your business set-up; get it right and the relationship you have with your accountant will be one of the longest business relationships you’ll ever enjoy. Get it wrong and you could be left feeling bitter and disenchanted with the whole profession.
Many people swear by recommendations from friends, family or business contacts and indeed this is still a vital source of new fees for many accountants; the problem with this is that accountants are not a ‘one size fits all’ type of profession, and so Uncle Peter’s perfect accountant is not necessarily going to work well for you; it is important therefore to do a bit of ground work, make a checklist, ask questions, explore your options, and choose a practice that is right for your business.
Make sure that you choose a qualified accountant; any one can call themselves an accountant but check that yours is a member of one of the main three professional bodies: The Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants; if things go wrong you’ll have some redress through their professional association or institute.
Accountants come in all shapes and sizes, so choose carefully; it is important that your new accountant is appropriate to your needs. Be aware of what different accountants can and cannot provide for you; a one-man-band accountant for instance may be harder to speak to as they are spread more thinly between clients, they may not be reachable when they go on holiday; a very large firm may be geared to servicing very large businesses and may have a less personal touch; think about what is important to you and your firm because your accountant will probably be your main business advisor and for small businesses in particular may end up as a sort of unofficial finance director.
Once you have narrowed down your list and have some appropriate, qualified accountants in your sights, there are a few things to ask about when speaking to a prospective accountant; most qualified accountants should be able to get the basics right, the things they term ‘compliance’ work, filing documents correctly and on time, looking after payroll etc. but it has often been said that the difference between an average accountant and a good accountant is that a good accountant will also save you money, so it is important to establish just how seriously each potential accountant takes their firm’s tax advice; check that they keep up to date on tax issues as it is an area that changes very quickly and confirm that they keep their clients abreast of tax information, perhaps with a monthly email.
On the subject of money, fees can be a very confusing pool to dive into, accountants do not all charge in a uniform way, making it hard to compare like-for-like, many charge an hourly rate, still a very traditional way to charge but very hard to budget for, some will provide an estimate for the year, but do be aware that estimates are just that and as such are subject to change, others may advise a fixed fee, probably the most beneficial way to be charged as it allows for confident budgeting, but do ensure that the fixed fee is all inclusive as it is easy to believe your fee was fixed only to receive an unexpected top-up bill for extras at the end of the year. The safest thing to do is to get the fixed fee in writing with a clear quote advising its all inclusive nature. If the accountant also offers a way of paying a monthly amount rather than a lump sum this is obviously of great benefit to the cash flow of your business.