Selecting an Accountant/Finance Director can be an exhausting process and can take a lot of your time. It’s much easier if you approach this systematically and have all the right questions to identify a good accountant. Here are some Top 10 Questions to ask.
1 – What do you expect from an Accountant?
It’s good to reflect on your business needs and determine some of the outline functions you are expecting from an Accountant. There are several different firms offering basic to complex services, Accountants that specialise in an industry. Do you want an accountant simply to produce annual accounts or you want something more hands-on management accounts? Some growing businesses might even need more involvement in costing, budgeting and cash flow management.
2 – The Accountants business and how much they have grown?
LinkedIn is crowded with Accountants & Advisors claiming experts in helping you grow your business. Ask your accountant about their own business, how long they have been practising and how much have they grown over the years. If you cannot grow your own business, it says a lot about what they can do for you.
3 – Do they have references & Reviews?
Check references and reviews on third-party websites, Trustpilot, Google reviews and vouched for are most popular. Ask about some existing clients and remember to give a call and speak to one of them. There is no better person to give you a good overview than an existing client. LinkedIn is a good platform to review the company and the staff working and recommendations on the page.
4 – Ask about the Accountants Experience?
Ask about the accountants/FD’s experience. Most accountants are limited with only practice experience. They have not had industry or commercial experience. If you are looking for more hands-on support, you must ensure the accountant has industry experience. They are more practical and approachable and can bring a vast level of experience that can support your growth. They have worked with CEO’s previously to support a business and will enjoy the role.
5 – How does he communicate and who will be your main contact?
You need to be clear and upfront about what form of communication you prefer. Will you require face to face meetings, or will everything be handled electronically? It’s also important to ask who your main contact will be. When it comes to the relationship between your business and the accounting firm, nothing is more important than the formation of trust. Knowing and speaking to this person will be good to understand before you sign up.
6 – Some industry related Reliefs or deductions
It might be worth doing a bit of research about some industry-related questions. If the accountant you are reviewing stumbles over the answer, it may be a red flag indicating they are not the best match for you. Some examples may be, VAT rates relating to the product you offer or even any tax reliefs you might be entitled to.
7 – How Technologically Savvy and what solutions do they offer
Software and services for accounting and bookkeeping have grown over the years resulting in an industry-wide change in how things are done. If your accountant is not using the latest technology, you are not at the right place. Clouds based accounting software, Software to Digitalise data entry and integration with your eCommerce/ EPOS systems are common saving you and your accountant time ensuring your books are up to date. A key role of an accountant should start with automating and streamlining your bookkeeping and reporting.
8 – How are the fees calculated & how the fees are reviewed?
Whether you are charged per hour, per service or a fixed rate remember to ask how the fee is calculated and how the fees are reviewed, what percentage increase and any things that are not covered by the fee structure.
9 – How do you keep up to date?
While you certainly want an accountant that is grounded in the fundamentals, you also want one that has an eye open for new ideas. What does your prospective accountant do to stay up on current trends and developments in their field? Ask about his qualifications and how many qualified accountants work, what training do they provide to keep their knowledge up to date.
10 – Why should you hire him?
Lastly but most importantly ask him why you should hire him? This will give him an opportunity to cover anything you have not discovered or his ability to think on his feet. After all, he is going to be an important part of your growth therefore you need to make sure he has your back.
If you are struggling or not getting the most of your accountant, give us a ring on 0208 249 6000 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See how we do with the questions. With over 20 years of industry experience, our team of accountants can make sure we support your growth.
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Written by Quraish Adamally