What are the questions you need to ask when looking for a small business accountant?
When you’re setting up your business you need to know that the money side of things is under control. You need an accountant that you can trust to keep your records in check and give you sound advice when you most need it.
Choosing the right person for the job can be tough. Like hiring an employee, you’ll want to ‘interview’ them first. But give them half a chance and they’ll dive right into their PR spiel, so to get the most out of your vetting process you need to prepare properly.
Avoid getting lumbered with some hack by reading our expert advice on choosing the right accountant for your small business:
Do your research
Everybody intends to scout around when looking for an accountant, but they rarely actually do.
You might be tempted to just go with the accountant your mate uses, but what works for them won’t necessarily be best for you. If you’re going to ask around then speak to people operating in your sector. You want to work with someone who understands the challenges you’re facing.
Similarly, you’ll do well to choose a firm which is a similar size to you. Small businesses get small businesses. They understand your financial pressures and like you, they value a personal service.
What do their customers say about them?
To really understand what someone is like to work with, you need to hear from their clients.
Don’t be afraid to ask them for some customer testimonials. Or even better, the contact details of one or two of their clients so you can get in touch with them yourself. Any reputable accountant will either have this information at hand or will be happy to get it for you.
Make sure to ask the right questions
Challenge them to tell you what they can do for your business, instead of what they do for everyone else. You’re starting out and you’ve got ambitious plans – find out how they expect to help you.
If you ask nothing else, make sure you put these three questions to them:
1. How much will their services cost?
2. When will they bill you? Annually, monthly, daily, hourly?
3. Are they regulated by a professional body? An ICAEW member will have professional indemnity insurance meaning any losses to your business due to bad advice will be covered.
If you want to know more about how the small business-accountant relationship can benefit you, download the ICAEW’s report on small business accountancy.