During your selection process, when you find a good accountant they’re often worth sticking with. You get to know them and they understand your business so each year you can both build on existing knowledge and relationship rather than having to start again.
But if you need to first find such an accountant, whether you’ve never had to instruct one before or it’s time for a change to who you usually use for whatever reason, then it’s important to make sure you make an informed decision about who this is rather than just the easiest option. We’ve therefore come up with 8 basic ‘checks’ to go through in your selection process to help decide who will be the best accountant for you:
1. The Cost
An obvious one I know, but it’s the total cost you need to consider after all the little extras and unknowns. So check out if there are any additional costs or expenses due, and if they charge VAT which will be an extra 20% cost for you unless you’re VAT registered to recover this back.
You may also need to check the timing of their invoices whether all at once at the end or in phases, and how quickly they will need paying. You could even look at some form of ‘bonus’ or the final payment being dependent upon their performance, although be careful this does not come across as too picky.
2. Their Regulation
Make sure you know how they are regulated, and then check it out with the regulatory body. Even if a firm of accountants are regulated by such and such a body, then still check whether the individual accountant dealing with your matter within the firm is suitably qualified as well.
3. Some References
Ask for some references and then check them out. Make sure these are real-life ones in a similar position to yourself, and not just general testimony-ones within marketing blurb.
4. Their Insurance
Clarify how they are insured as a firm so that if there were any mistakes that caused you a loss then this insurance could cover this.
5. Terms & Conditions
Always check the small print before you sign. Ideally get someone qualified like a solicitor to check, particularly for larger and longer term instructions, and make sure you actually understand the gist of what they’re trying to say.
6. The Size
The range of sizees of an accountancy firm can be vast, right from an individual accountant sole-trader to a large international firm. There are pros and cons to each type in terms of the level of service, attention given to clients, and back-up resources received, so make sure it’s clear what these are.
7. Their Branches
Check out how many branches they have and where they are. They may be regional but have numerous branches in local towns, or only a few on a national scale and a regional one happens to be in your town.
Also, check how long these have actually been integrated into the firm as often there are take overs with other firms to bolt-on numbers and appear bigger than they actually are.
8. Other Services
Makes sure you understand what other services the firm do. Even though these may not be needed by you now, you may do in the future in which case it's worth knowing that these are available if needs be.
However, don’t assume the same firm will automatically provide say bespoke tax advice if they have just been doing your book keeping, still shop around and ask the firm for a definite quote.