Things to consider when choosing an Accountant

Whether you’re looking to instruct an accountant for the very first time or wanting to change from your existing accountant, it is so important to get it right.

The following checklist will help you to ensure that you don’t make any costly mistakes and you make the right decision.

It is equally important to know what it is you’re looking for and why you might need an accountant. A recent survey of small business owners found the following to be the main considerations.

  • Accounting and HMRC compliance, including deadlines met.
  • Pro-active tax advice, and saving tax (within the law, of course).
  • Quality of service, efficiency, reliability and responsiveness.
  • Level of Fees.


  1. Size of the practice: Small firms are better suited to the needs of a small business. The principle of a small practice will also be able to relate better to other small business owners, as they experience very similar challenges in the business world.
  2. You should consider the range of services provided and be sure about the services that you need. If you use an accountant where “one size fits all,” you could end up paying for services that you don’t really need, or can easily take care of yourself. The accountant should take the time to get to understand you, your business, and your needs. The accountant should also help you to decide which services to use and those that you can do yourself, with a little guidance. You should end up with a package tailored to your needs.
  3. You also need to consider if you just want to see your accountant once a year to prepare accounts and tax returns, or if you want a pro-active accountant who is there for you, with free advice and guidance throughout the year. The accountant should be looking at more than just historical profit & loss and tax. A wider understanding of your business and the aspirations of the owner are important for the accountant to help plan for tax efficient growth.
  4. You should ask the accountant about credentials, and you should ensure the accountant that you choose is suitably qualified and a member of a recognised professional body. This means the accountant has to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) and keep up to date with changes in legislation and other matters relevant to the services they provide. They will be monitored by their professional body and this provides a route for complaint if you have a problem with the accountant that cannot be resolved. The professional body will insist that the accountant has either a practicing certificate or licence to practice, together with adequate professional indemnity insurance
  5. You should also satisfy yourself that the accountant has the expertise they claim to have, and that they are able to deliver the service(s) to meet your needs. You can check this out by asking for testimonials from other clients and also checking the accountant’s LinkedIn profile. You should also consider how well connected the accountant is in the local business community. A good accountant should be able to refer you to banks, IFA’s, mortgage advisers, etc.
  6. HMRC investigations are increasing, as the government is trying to tighten the net and recover more tax from those in default or deliberately evading the correct level of tax due. Whilst most taxpayers are genuinely honest and have nothing to fear from an investigation, they can be quite time consuming and inconvenient. You need to check that your accountant is able to act for you in the event of an investigation, and that there is professional fee insurance available to cover the fees incurred.
  7. One of the most important considerations is the fee the accountant is going to charge. You should only choose an accountant where you can agree a fixed fee in advance, and pay monthly throughout the year. This way there are no surprises and the monthly payments will help you to plan your cash flow.

Call now on 01202 611062 to arrange an informal discussion.

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