Top 10 Questions about Switching Accountants

Monday July 4, 2016

When you're setting out in business, you've got to keep a lot of balls in the air. You're making important decisions that'll shape your future. The thing is, that future may be very different from the one you were expecting - and some of those early decisions could now be holding it back. Maybe you chose your accountant based on a personal recommendation, or maybe you just knew a guy who was "good with numbers". Either way, what you thought you wanted back then may not be what you need right now. It's time to think about switching.

Here are some of your biggest questions answered:

1. Why do businesses switch accountants?

There are loads of reasons, but more often than not it's about getting the right help and advice. You can't bash a square accountant into a round hole - and believe us, plenty have tried.

Some switch because they have no idea what fees to expect. Many accountants charge you for every piece of advice they give, which can ramp up your costs a lot.

At RIFT Accounting, people switch to us for all of the above reasons, but a big draw is the fact that they can budget with our monthly fees and get unlimited accounting and tax advice. No hourly fees or expensive bills for meetings.

2. When is the best time to switch accountants?

It really is up to you. After all, it's your company. However we'd usually advise that the end of your VAT quarter or year end are the most logical times to change. Then again, if you're really unhappy with the service you're getting and need to change as soon as you can, please talk to us. If you're in serious need of a change, there's really no time like the present.

3. What does switching accountants involve?

Firstly, it's easier than you'd think. Just give us a ring at RIFT Accounting and we'll take it from there. We'll need to know about your business and your needs, of course. Simple stuff like how you want to work with us, when your key dates are and how many staff you employ, for example. We'll also need to know who your previous accountants are.
Once you're all set, we write a "professional clearance letter" to your existing accountants, asking them to send us the other details we need. We'd always suggest you also contact your existing accountant by email, just so they're prepared.

4. How often should I talk to my accountants?

With RIFT Accounting, as often as you want!  You're always welcome to give us a call to chat about any aspect of your business. There's no additional charge unless we agree to do some specific work for you outside of your usual accounting needs.

With other accountants, we'd obviously recommend checking whether there's a fee attached before you meet up with them or get extra help.

5. What is professional clearance and do I have to do it before changing accountants?

It’s just a letter to your previous accountant requesting all relevant information about your business that they hold. This helps ensure a smooth transition between accountants.

If you switch to RIFT we can even give you a template to use to send to your exisitng accountant and handle everything for you.

6. What are the advantages of switching accountants?

Sometimes you're just after lower costs or a better deal. Often, though, you're going to find that your existing accountant just doesn't "get" you. A lot of them have very clear ideas of how businesses should be run, and don't have the flexibility or specialist knowledge to cope with your needs.

At the end of the day,  the best reason to switch is to get an accountant you feel comfortable talking to, and who understands how to reach your business goals.

7. How often should I switch accountants?

Tough question. Over the life of your business, there are many reasons why you might change. However, switching all the time (every year, for instance) might look dodgy to potential new accountants. If you're feeling the need to switch frequently, maybe the problem lies elsewhere. If every accountant you talk to says what you're trying to do is impossible or unwise, there's always the chance they may be right.

8. Who needs to know I have switched accountants?

HMRC will probably want to know, especially if they're dealing directly with your accountant. Most accountants ask you to complete form 64-8, which lets them can act as your "agent" while dealing with the taxman.

It might also be a good idea to tell your bank and, if you use one regularly, your solicitor or business coach.

9. How does switching accountants affect payroll, VAT etc?

If the timing's good, it shouldn’t affect them at all. For example, here at RIFT Accounting we always try to get payroll details first from your previous accountants via professional clearance to make sure everything runs smoothly.

10. What are the advantages of having a dedicated accountant?

For one thing, they get to know you and your business. They understand what's important to you in terms of future plans and cash flow - all of which make a real difference to your business as it evolves and grows.

The bottom line is that the right accountant is one who works to help your business survive and grow. They have to understand what you do, and what you hope to do, before they can help you do it.

RIFT Accounting is a lot more than just a team of faceless number crunchers. We actively care about your business dreams, and do all we can to make them come true. Remember - accounting's not about bean-counting; it's about making your beans count.

Phone or email RIFT to find out what we can do for you.

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