Switching to a new accountant can seem like a daunting task. You may ask yourself whether it’s really necessary, surely one chartered certified accountant is the same as the next?
But just as no two business owners or entrepreneurs are the same, accountants aren’t either.
A savvy accountant can provide significant cost savings for your company as well as identify areas of opportunity, whether you own a local business nearby in Dartford or Bexley, or are at the helm of a larger London enterprise.
If you’re not sure what to look for, we’ve put together a handy checklist; your accountant should do all of the below… If they aren’t, now might be time to consider switching to one that does.
1. They aren’t keeping up to date with the latest technology
Having up to date financial information enables you to make quick, but informed decisions about your business. Your accountant should utilise the latest cloud accounting and app technology, such as Xero. If they’re avoiding the latest technology, it could indicate that they aren’t performing as efficiently as they should be.
2. They don’t keep up to date with your accounts
It’s important to keep your expenses and bank accounts up to date. In order to do this effectively, you should be aware of your cashflow and how much money you need to set aside for tax purposes and other business expenses.
Your accountant should provide you with regular updates beyond the quarterly and annual overviews. If they aren’t doing this, then the chances are you don’t have a full picture of what is happening with your business financials at any given time.
3. They are unapproachable
We know accountants love numbers, but you shouldn’t feel like just another number on their client list.
You should expect more from your accountant than just a yearly, or even quarterly update.
In order to get the best out of your accountant, you should be speaking to them on a regular basis. They should be aware of, and involved in, your business finances so that they can offer useful and timely advice. If they’re unavailable when you contact them, or you don’t feel as though you’re being treated like a priority, then it’s an indication that your business is not at the forefront of their client portfolio.
Find yourself an accountant who is approachable. You should feel comfortable popping in for a cup of tea and a biscuit (or in our case Milky Way Magic Stars!) while you chat about the best avenues for your business.
4. They don’t understand your business, or what you do
Your accountant doesn’t need to know every aspect of your day to day job, but they should understand how your industry works and what your pressure points, busy periods and challenges are likely to be.
If your accountant doesn’t understand your business, and hasn’t taken the time to learn, then it’s likely that they aren’t making decisions tailored to your needs. You should be having conversations about your current business performance, and your future plans – not generic ‘business’ advice.
A good rule of thumb is to look at the services they offer. If they don’t have packages focused on supporting different sized SMEs, then it’s likely they aren’t the right fit for you, and will fall short of your requirements.
5. When they do contact you, they don’t broach difficult topics
Your accountant isn’t just there to help with your tax returns and bookkeeping. Building a business involves making tough decisions, and your accountant is there to facilitate that.
They should be asking you questions about cashflow, exit plans for your business, retirement plans and business overheads. If they aren’t broaching these subjects, then you aren’t getting the best out of them.
6. You missed out because your accountant was unaware of a rule or an allowance
You should be kept up to date on the latest rules and allowances. If you only found out about new legislation that has been implemented, or a method of reducing their tax bill, through having a conversation with a friend or at a networking event, then you should be questioning your choice of accountant.
It’s either bad communication, or your accountant is unaware of the changes. If it’s the latter, then it shows a lack of care into their own professional development. They’re responsible for keeping on top of all changes and potential opportunities. If your accountant isn’t doing this then it begs the question, what else are you missing out on?
7. You’re never quite sure what additional charges they may add on
You kind of know what they do, but are you sure about what’s included and what isn’t? Have you thought that something was included, only to then be told that it wasn’t?
Or even worse, have you asked for something to be done, and then found that your next invoice has had fees added on?
Your accountant should clearly spell out – in writing, at the beginning – exactly what’s included within the amount that you pay. You should also have a menu of charges, so you know what would be charged as added extras if you need them.
8. They don’t meet the most basic requirements
Everyone makes mistakes, but when your accountants makes them you are liable.
If mistakes are made, or deadlines are missed, it can cost you money in the form of tax liabilities, penalties and interest charges. Ultimately your accountant should be saving you money, definitely not causing you to lose out!
Which brings us to…
9. They aren’t saving you money
Profit is king. You should be measuring your business success on your profits, and your accountant should be an important part in maximising yours.
They should be:
- Saving you money on taxes
- Identifying business cost savings
- Making you aware of profitable opportunities for your business
If your accountant hasn’t discussed any of these topics with you, it may be time to think about making a change, a full service accountant will offer more to your business than just filling out tax returns for you.
10. They may be doing everything they should be doing, but they aren’t doing everything they could be doing
It’s great if your accountant is meeting your expectations, however they are also there to help grow your business in any way they can. This includes acting as an unofficial business coach. They should know your business ambitions and be able to guide you towards reaching them.
If they aren’t advising you on how to achieve your goals, then you aren’t with the right accountant.
Even if you relate to just one of these points, warning bells should be ringing. It’s difficult to compare your accountant with another if you don’t know what others do, so it might be time to explore your options. If you’re worried, talk to a few accountants, using the list above as a checklist.
If you’d like to get in touch with us to see how we could help, we’re happy to sit down with you and go through how we’d work with you, supporting you and your business.
Blue Rocket Accounting provides tailored accounting and bookkeeping support to businesses across Kent including Dartford, Bexley, Sidcup and Maidstone, helping to put them on course to reach their full potential