If you are self-employed already you will know the value of having an accountant and if you are about to start working for yourself, you will soon become very familiar with the sound of your accountants voice.
Having an accountant who is right for you and your business can mean the difference between doing OK and fulfilling your true potential. Often considered as a passive partner simply responsible for number-crunching, an accountant can have a truly significant impact on your success.
Unfortunately, its all too easy to simply stick with the accountant you have, just because its easy. But if you don’t feel like they really understand what you and your business are trying to achieve, perhaps its time to consider a switch.
We run through some of the factors you should bear in mind when you are looking for a new accountant.
Not all construction workers are the same: there are electricians, plumbers, carpenters and plasterers and many more types of specialist knowledge too. No-one expects a construction worker to understand every aspect of another persons expertise; the same principles apply to accountancy too.
Whilst all accountants certainly have a grasp of the basics, there are many different types of accountancy. Finding a firm that can offer you the right experience is vital if you are to get the most out of your business.
Every industry has its own particular quirks and ways of working and no two are alike; IT workers and engineers certainly face some of the same issues such as IR35 but in other ways have completely different concerns. To get the most out of your business you should ensure that the accountant you are looking to switch to has experience in your industry.
Simply being a great accountant is a good start but they need to know the ins and outs of how your profession works, including the pitfalls and hazards which might trip you up. A good accountant should help you make sure you have thought of everything and they can only do this if they have the right knowledge in the first place.
You might find an accountant that ticks all the right boxes professionally but for some reason, you just don’t get along. If you cant overcome this, you will find it almost impossible to get the best results.
Its important to be able to run theoretical scenarios past your accountant to see what the potential outcome could beand your ideas and questions may be a little crazy at times. You need a good rapport with your accountant to have the confidence to say what you are thinking without fear of being judged or secretly sneered at.
A good accountant will make sure you feel valued, no matter whether your business is big or small, and will always be at the end of the phone if you have a question. Having the reassurance that your business has that kind of support is invaluable.
That little bit extra
Of course your accountant is there to help you with tax returns, HMRC queries and technical problems but you should also be able to enjoy a few extra advantages too.
The top firms provide free information and guides, often via their website, for use by their clients. These could cover a wide range of subjects; anything from information about limited companies to the benefits of working for an umbrella firm.
And use of technology is something you should also be able to expect. Rather than having to submit everything by hand or fax, many accountants now offer top of the range electrical data submission which means less pointless trips and a whole host of information available at just the click of a mouse, day or night.
And finally, your accountant should be interested in you and your business, not just keen to rattle through the numbers in the shortest time possible. Expect to answer questions about your work, your aims and how your business works; this is essential to allow your accountant to really understand what you do and allow them to provide the best help and advice.
Many people decide to start working for themselves to make sure that the money they earn goes into their own pocket rather than some-one elses. By not making the most of the money generated by the business, you could be throwing much of your hard work down the drain.
A good accountant should be an integral part of your business plan and despite the many benefits they bring, they dont have to be expensive, particularly if you opt for a fixed cost package.
Look at the accountant you currently have, can you honestly say they tick all of the above boxes? If not, it might be time you considered a switch.