Choosing an accountant

Choosing an Accountant to work with represents one of the most important decisions you will face.

Putting your finances in the hands of someone you trust is essential for providing peace of mind – the right choice could lead to greater levels of success for your business whereas the wrong choice could well see you lose money.

With so many accountants to choose from, – ranging from independent freelancers, through to large firms with many full-time staff and third party specialists – how you approach the process of searching for the best accountant for your needs is vital.

Choosing the right accounting firm for your personal needs

Once you’ve decided that the time is right to invest in the services of a professional accountant, it pays to step back, before going headfirst into your search, to ask yourself a few questions. Every individual – and every business – is different, so the process you employ to find the right accountant will be defined by your own specific requirements.

For example, it is pertinent for you to ask yourself key questions such as:

  • Do I want my accountant to be located nearby?
  • Do I want my accountant to work full-time hours?
  • How much am I willing to spend on an accountant?
  • Do I need to invest in more software licences for use by my accountant?
  • What are the key aims I hope to achieve by working with an accountant?

Your answers to questions such as these will provide the basic framework from which to begin your search for a suitable candidate or accountancy firm. You may, for example, be happy to take advantage of remote working and for your accountant to have no need to come to your office; you may only require a few hours’ work each month; and your accountant may already have all the required software and licences to begin working almost immediately.

Such factors will play an essential role in how you continue to pursue the recruitment of an accountant for your organisation and will also have an impact on the level of money you will need to pay for their services.

How to go about choosing an Accountant for your business

In addition to the questions that you yourself need to answer, you will need to define clear criteria that you wish potential candidates to fulfil. After all, the right person for the role will be able to help your business save money and maximise its earnings, so establishing a clear set of requirements represents the best means of identifying the most suitable candidate to work with your organisation.

  1. What qualifications do they have? As an industry, accountancy is regulated by a number of official bodies that demand compliance in order to allow a member to practice. The minimum level of education required to ensure competency is often the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) As a highly respected and internationally recognised qualification, the AAT demonstrates that candidates have the necessary skills to manage cash flows, budgets, and general finances for your business. Of course, Accountants with more specialised and advanced qualifications are also available, but using the AAT as a starting point for your search will often prove effective. It is important to check that any AAT qualified accountants offering their services to the public (as opposed to working for an employer) also have a practising certificate however, as this is required in addition to the qualification itself.
  2. Can they demonstrate past successes? As a business owner, you’ll likely be looking to grow and develop your organisation and to achieve greater levels of success. When seeking accountancy candidates, look to those who have a pedigree of improving performance at past businesses they’ve worked with and who can showcase how their work was instrumental in delivering success.
  3. Look for recommendations. There’s no harm in taking the time to make enquiries to determine whether or not a particular accountant has the nous and expertise to deliver on your requirements. From simply looking at professional recommendations on such platforms as LinkedIn, to contacting third parties directly for a discussion about potential recruits, taking the time to research past working relationships will prove invaluable.
  4. Ask plenty of questions. Once you’ve determined what you want to get out of working with an accountant, make sure you ask suitable questions to shortlisted candidates that help you identify whether the relationship that will be forged is conducive to your goals. It’s important that you’re able to trust your accountant fully, so selecting someone with whom you can establish a good rapport will serve you and your business well.

Should I choose a Chartered Accountant?

In any occupation, experience is key. In the world of accountancy, in particular – with its ever-changing regulations and the need to stay abreast of industry developments – there are cases where a higher level of competency and practical know-how are important. The starting point for finding a suitable accountancy candidate, as identified above, is the qualifications they possess.

One of the simplest ways to ensure that you’re working with an accountant who has the required experience and knowledge is to limit your search to Chartered Accountants only. These highly qualified and experienced professionals are fully regulated by professional bodies of the highest standards and will often be able to demonstrate experience in delivering success to a diverse range of clients.

If simple technical accountancy work is all that is required,  a person who isn’t a Certified or Chartered Accountant may be all that you need. However, if your goal is to grow your business and succeed on a greater scale, choosing a fully qualified Chartered Accountant to work with is a must.

Find out more with THP Chartered Accountants

At THP Chartered Accountants, we aim to provide organisations with expert and friendly accountancy services tailored to their precise needs. From our offices in Sutton, Chelmsford, Saffron Walden, and Wanstead, we help support businesses with an array of professional services.

Contact us today by calling free on 0800 6520 025 and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs, whether you’re seeking day-to-day financial services, information on Inheritance Tax planning, wealth management or more.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    Avatar for Mark Boulter
    About Mark Boulter

    Mark Boulter is responsible for the efficient running of the firm’s infrastructure, and ensuring that THP delivers the best client service. Promoting the vision and culture across all branches, people are the key: “I like people who have a fresh approach and I’m happy for them to run with their ideas,” he says.

    Communication across departments is crucial and Mark pioneers this. He ensure that people and departments not only talk to each other, but that they share ideas– whether they’re about marketing, finance, sales, strategy or any other topic that can result in us offering a better service. “I think helping to develop the next generation of THP people is essential to our success,” Mark adds. “We’ve a lot of talented people and our way of doing things increasingly attracts ambitious newcomers who are looking for a fresh approach. That’s good for us and even better news for our clients.”

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