One of the questions I hear a lot being asked is “What makes a good accountant” quickly followed by “How do I ensure that I get value for money from my accountant”.

1. What makes a good accountant

*****One that fits your business and the stage it is at*****

It is so important that you choose an accountant that has the experience at least in the sector that you are in. As an example it is little use in engaging an accountant who only has experience with service sector companies if you are operating in the manufacturing sector. Similarly there is little point in appointing an accountant who deals with large corporates when you are in the early stages of your business development. Always thoroughly research your choice of accountant. In addition arrange to meet with him/her first before employing them to make sure the fit is right for you and your business. Better still get someone to recommend a good accountant to you.

****One that can explain everything to you in a way that you understand****

It is vitality important that you understand absolutely everything your accountant is saying to you. At the end of the day, the business is yours and your sole responsibility. More importantly you want to have assurance that you know exactly what is happening and why and be comfortable with the advice being given. If you cultivate the right relationship it will help your business to flourish. If you are not totally comfortable, go somewhere else. Do yourself a favour; find an accountant you have a rapport with and can trust. It will pay dividends in the end.

****One that is qualified for the job***

When I say qualified I mean professionally qualified and registered with their particular body e.g. Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland, Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. If you use an accredited accountant from a professional body you have recourse to that body in the event of something going terribly wrong.

2. How to I ensure that I get value for money from my accountant

***Share information as often as you can and keep your accountant up to speed***

No one likes nasty surprises, particularly not accountants. So if you suddenly have a “light bulb” moment and believe you have cracked the magic formula to double your revenue or better still your profit, speak to your accountant first and run your ideas/thoughts past them. A good accountant should have the necessary knowledge and experience to talk you through the risks and opportunities so that you are more informed before you decide to take action. If you leave it to after the event you risk falling into pitfalls which later may not be able to be avoided e.g. tax implications on your decisions and actions. Talking it through beforehand could save some of that avoidable pain. Good accountants are supportive and will always advise in your best interest. Of course at the end of the day the final decision still rests with you as the business owner.

****Be organised and keep all your records in one place****

There is nothing more frustrating to us accountants than if your basic bookkeeping records are not organised in some way. This does not mean that you have to go and spend a fortune on an “all singing all dancing” piece of software straight away. You should only do that when the volume of transactions merit it. Keeping a manual system in the beginning either on a spread sheet or in a folder will help cut down the amount of work and effort that goes into preparing the basic financial numbers for your business.  With today’s modern technology there are a variety of apps to help you collate your information electronically. Even photographing your receipts on your phone at point of sale means you have a record of it in case the receipt goes missing later.  I as an accountant would much rather spend my time with you as a business owner looking forward for your business than having to sort out a bag full of receipts and find missing bank statements for the past year!

***Be nice to your accountant***

Contrary to popular belief we are humans, so please be nice to us. We really like it when you return our calls or emails. Sometimes we do have to deliver uncomfortable truths e.g. how much tax you have got to pay. Please don’t get annoyed with us, we are only trying to do our job by keeping both your business, you and ourselves compliant and more importantly the tax man knocking at the front door!

If you are interested in finding out more about the business philosophy of my company Ekstra Accounting Solutions.