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If you have never used the services of an accountant before, you may wonder when you should be looking for one and, more importantly, how to choose the right person.

When will depend on your business and your particular circumstances. It may be that you are planning for growth, about to hire staff for the first time, changing the legal structure of your company, or simply that you fancy spending more time with your friends and family rather than sorting out receipts!

Choosing the right person to be your accountant can seem daunting so we have put together these easy tips to make the process easier.

      1. Ask other business owners for recommendation. If they have been using a specific firm for a while, it means that they are happy with the service they are getting.
      2. Make a shortlist of two to three accountants and contact them to set up an initial meeting. This first phone call will give you a lot of information about the firm. Are they easy to get hold of? Did they return your call promptly if they weren’t available when you called? Are they willing to meet with you for an initial consultation free of charge? The point is that if they are not attentive and pro-active when you are potential new business, chances are that you may find the relationship hard work when you are a client.
      3. Jot down any questions you have for your accountant before the meeting. It is easy to forget them if they are just in your head!
      4. When you meet with your candidates, look out for the following qualities:
        • Experience: Accountants don’t need to have specific experience in your industry, but it is important that they understand your needs to give you the right type of support. If they primarily deal with multinationals but you have only a handful of employees, they may not give you the most appropriate advice.
        • Savvy with Technology: Can your accountant save you time and give you rapid information on your business? Better use of business software (such as Xero) can improve your business and your life.
        • Flexibility: Is your accountant willing to learn about your goals and will they have the capacity to grow with your business? You may be a one-man band today but who knows how far you will go?
        • Clear communication: You want your accountant to understand all the subtleties of complex technical accounting techniques. It doesn’t mean they should shower you with them until your head hurts. If they keep using jargon and can’t make things clear for you, they are probably not the right people.
        • Rapport: It may be a business decision, but getting on well with your accountant will ensure a better working relationship and more positive outcomes for your business.
        • References: Asking for references is common practice so don’t hesitate to ask them for a list of clients they have been working with. Contacting them will help you find out more about the accountant’s strengths and weaknesses.
        • Transparency of fees: Fees can vary widely depending on location, specialism, size and renown of the firm, but they should be able to give you a clear fee structure for their services. Getting quotes from several accountants will allow you to compare like for like but don’t base your decision on price alone. Lower fees may mean that corners are cut.

If you are looking for an accountant who understands how businesses tick and can support your business through its change, leave your details on our Contact page or call us on 0800 422 526 to discuss how we can help.