Choosing An Accountant

It's About What's Right For You, Right Now

You wouldn’t let someone who'd read a couple of blog posts on healthy living prescribe medical treatment for you, so why would you leave the health of your business in unqualified hands? There may well be an accountant in the building next door, or you might know someone who's “good with numbers”, but that's no reason to let them loose on your business accounts.

The Financial Times found that a staggering one-in-five failed businesses would still be trading if they'd sought better financial advice and support at the outset. The main reasons for failure are:

  • Lack of information on financial performance: understand your finances so you can spot and fix any problems in time.
  • Turnover-led instead of profit-led: don’t put maximising sales instead ahead of controlling costs and increasing profits.
  • Taxation and legislation: understand your responsibilities so you stay out of trouble with Companies House and HMRC.
  • Cash flow: keep track of debtors and creditors to keep cash flowing through the business.

Accountants differ widely in qualifications, skills, experience and communication style, so it's crucial that you choose carefully. It's not as simple as deciding who's "the best". It's about finding the right fit for your business.

In the past, you had to be able to get to your accountant's office during working hours. Worse still, if the only accountant you could reliably get hold of specialised in the wrong field, you were simply out of luck. Cloud-based accounting changed all of that. Now, if you need an accountant who specialises in your business size, industry or specific activities, you can always find the right supplier to meet your needs. 

You have a great idea and real passion for your new venture, but when you make that leap, how do you ensure that you're one of the success stories? The best way is to seek specialist advice and support during the set-up process. Talk to RIFT Accounting and let us put you on the right track.

Asking The Right Questions

Suppose you're just starting out and could use a little handholding. An accountancy practice that specialises in multinationals is no use to you. It's worth going into this knowing exactly which boxes need ticking. Here are some points to think over:

Why do you want an accountant?

Do you want the accountant to do everything for you, or just to check you've got it right yourself? Are you confident with the basics, but need help in specialised areas? What if your needs change as your business grows? These questions will get you the right service at the right price.

Does the accountant know your market or industry sector well - and ideally specialise in it?

Your accountant really needs to understand how your business ticks, and the regulations that affect it. They should be able to tell you what you need to do and when, without  prompting.

What services do they offer?

Never pay for services you won't use, or miss out on ones you need. You may just want help with taxation, or someone to act as your agent with HMRC. You shouldn’t need to know the jargon, because the right accountant will always understand your needs and explain things clearly.

What fees will be charged and how does the pricing work?

Ask questions now to avoid nasty surprises later. Hourly rates can make it hard to get a definitive answer before the work is done, but get a ballpark figure of what you can expect to pay.

Do you think you will get on with them personally?

You and your accountant don't need to go out and fight crime together, but you'll need professional trust and good communication.  Remember, you'll be relying on each other for accurate, timely information and trusting each other with big decisions.

Have you heard good things about their reputation?

A personal recommendation can be worth its weight in gold, but do your own research too. The person making the recommendation might have very different needs and expectations from your own.

Other things to bear in mind when choosing an accountant:

  • If you're just setting up, choose an accountant before you start trading to help get the structure of your business right from the outset.
  • A decent accountant will help you with your business plan as well as your tax planning.
  • Don’t start looking for an accountant two days before the tax return deadline.

Give yourself a fighting chance to find the right help, rather than grasping any straw that presents itself out of desperation.

Call us on 01233 653006 and see how we can help you today.

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