Choosing an Accountant

A good accountant will save you and your business money, but it’s essential to choose the right one for your particular business. Use the following checklist to find the right person.

1) Ask friends or colleagues for recommendations

2) Check that the accountant is suitably qualified

3) Find out if the accountant has expertise at dealing with your sort of business

4 ) Set up an initial meeting to discuss your needs

5) Find out how much the accountant charges

6) Check who will actually handle your work

Choosing an Accountant – Things to Do

1. Ask friends or colleagues for recommendations
Ask friends, colleagues or business associates if they would recommend their own accountants. Alternatively, ask your local Business Link or bank manager for advice on accountants in the area or log on to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants for a list of local accountants.

2. Check that the accountant is suitably qualified
Check that the accountant is suitably qualified and is a member of an approved accountancy body. Look for the letters ACA or FCA after the accountant’s name if he or she is a chartered accountant, ACCA or FCCA if he or she is a chartered certified accountant or ACMA or FCMA if he or she is a chartered management accountant. These qualifications mean the accountant has gone through numerous exams before qualifying as well as spent several years gaining practical experience.

3. Find out if the accountant has expertise at dealing with your sort of business
Ask how many businesses of a similar size your accountant handles and whether they have specialist knowledge of your particular industry.

4. Set up an initial meeting to discuss your needs
Take along a copy of your business plan and details of areas in which you would like the accountant to be involved – business advice, financial reporting, tax and auditing work.

5. Find out how much the accountant charges
Find out if there is an hourly fee and whether this varies depending on the seniority of the person doing the work. Also check whether there is a fixed fee for your annual audit and when and how these fees are payable.

6. Check who will actually handle your work
Find out who within the firm of accountants will be doing the work. Ensure you are happy to work with this person and that they can give you and your business the attention it needs as and when you need it.

Choosing an Accountant – Best Practice

When choosing an accountant, it’s also a good idea to consider:

  • Whether you feel comfortable and at ease talking to the accountant about the business and any problems you may have.
  • Asking for a guarantee that charges won’t rise steeply after the first year.
  • Getting advice on the best accounting and payroll systems to use.
  • Keeping your accountant informed of any changes to your business to ensure you get the best, most up-to-date advice.
  • Regularly comparing costs to ensure you are getting value for money.

This document reproduced in accordance with Crown Copyright © 2003

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