How do you feel about the service you’re getting from your accountant? In the old days, perhaps even in ‘normal’ non-COVID times, it was understandable to accept a standard service. Engaging an accountant who bumps along with you, preparing your annual reports and then patting you on the head with a ‘well done’ or a ‘never mind’ – maybe that was enough.
But now? In 2020? With a business world riddled with uncertainty? Surely, you need something more. Surely, you should be demanding something more.
So. What should you expect from your accountant? How do you decide if yours is up to scratch – and if you are looking elsewhere, how do you decide which one will suit you and your business? What are the questions you should be asking to help you make the right choice?
What are you really looking for?
But first, ask yourself a question – a basic one.
What do you want from your accountant?
Let’s say it’s this – “I need an accountant who will add financial value to my company and who will act as a business sounding-board or business adviser.”
Based on that answer, here are 7 questions you need to be asking.
How qualified are you?
“What are your qualifications? Are you regulated by a professional body?“
Do you have professional indemnity insurance which will cover any losses to your business due to bad advice. The good news is that Mad Hatters Accountants are registered and certified with AAT.
Could my money work harder?
In the old days, you might have asked, ‘Can you balance my books?’. What you should be asking today is – ‘what am I entitled to that I don’t know about?’
Some accountants will only be interested in looking after your annual accounts and tax compliance. However, that’s only a small portion of what a good accountant can – and should – be doing for you. You need an accountant who’s pro-active – just like Mad Hatters! One who can, for example, help you to raise capital by finding grants, government funding pots, and tax relief. A good accountant will help you to sell shares in the business, crowdfund or find angel investment.
Technology – do you support an online accountancy platform?
Ask your prospective accountants about time-saving online bookkeeping software.
These days there’s no alternative to online accounting – and your accountant should know this. Here at Mad Hatters Accountancy, we’re providers, Gold Partners and certified advisors for the unrivalled Xero Accountancy software. We support you with installation and training, ensuring you gain every benefit possible from the platform. You’ll be able to see your tax liability at the drop of a hat, as well as raise invoices and record expenses anywhere, anytime.
Don’t be afraid to ask about accountancy fees. Ask also about when you’ll be billed and how you’ll be expected to pay. It might be annually or monthly. Maybe it will be via direct debit. Ask too if they will charge you by the hour for extra bits and pieces. Talk money upfront. Otherwise, you might be in for a shock. With Mad Hatters, we don’t believe in shocks. In all our communications, we’re 100% transparent.
Are we a good fit?
The right accountant will be the one that understands your business goals and challenges. They will be the one that has the right kind of insight into your particular sector. The right accountant will also be friendly and approachable – and that’s us!
Do they have expertise in your sector? It makes sense to go with an accountant that’s similar in size to yours. They’re more likely to understand your challenges. With low overheads, there’s every chance they’ll be affordable too.
How will you keep in touch?
Accountants offer varying levels of engagement. Make sure you’re clear about how often your accountant will contact you. Will you be in touch with each other by email or telephone? Less contact often means lower costs, but it can be more difficult to ask questions or spot issues. At Mad Hatters we value our clients and make ourselves available as often as possible for consultations or even a friendly chat!
How are things going?
Once you’ve chosen an accountant, measuring their performance is an ongoing process. How often should you be meeting or catching up on the phone?
When you meet up with a prospective accountant, you need to assess, not only how they answer your questions but whether they have questions for you too – and what kind of questions. Are they interested in your business? Are they interested in you as an individual? Do they give the impression that they’ll be pro-active? They should be asking if you have any issues, questions or concerns to discuss.
The way to get the most out of your accountant is to engage in dialogue. That’s how we at Mad Hatters work best – and we’re sure it will work best for you too. Ask questions, but also be forthcoming. The more you share about your business, the more you will get out of the relationship.
Here to help
A good accountant will save you time and help your business grow. A bad one could cost you a fortune.
Of course, we’d love it if you were to contact us – We’re friendly, efficient and affordable. Ask us the 7 key questions. We’ve a feeling you’ll be impressed by the answers you get.
Call Sarah on 01908 978500
Send an email.
More than ever – we’re here to help!