Why you need to switch Accountants
Have you ever thought about switching accountants?
Even if you haven’t, it may well be time to consider your options.
Maybe you feel that your current accountant doesn’t take enough interest in your business and does little more than prepare your annual accounts and tax returns. Perhaps you’re not entirely convinced you’re still getting value for your money? Or maybe you feel you need someone who has more relevant experience in tax planning and who wants to help you cut your bills from the Revenue.
Perhaps you could benefit more by working with an accounting firm with specific experience of your particular trade or industry sector?
The problem is that switching accountants is a bit like changing your energy supplier.
Many business owners realise it’s probably a good idea that will improve their working life and save them money, but decide its either going to be too much hassle or worry that they may jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Better to stay with the devil they know… and of course it’s always easier to do nothing!
But if you want to start enjoying benefits like lower tax bills, sound business planning advice and even the help of a friendly, interested accountant who can work as your Finance Director, you are going to have to take a few risks and take the positive steps needed to find the right experts in the right firm.
After all, taking risks is what entrepreneurs do. Especially when they make sure those risks are guided by informed choices.
Before you leap off into the unknown, be sure to ask some pertinent questions first. By doing this not only can you take the hassle out of switching but you’ll also improve your chances of reaping all the valuable rewards you’re looking for.
1. How interested are they in you and do you like them?
Even if you’re not certain about switching, there’s no harm in checking what other accountants can offer you. If they are truly interested in you and you’re business, they’ll immediately offer you a free meeting to discuss the services you need.
While you’re at their offices, take a careful note of how the practice is run. Do you get a warm welcome at reception? How senior is the accountant you’re introduced to, did they make a good impression and how much experience do they have of your industry? Do they offer to introduce you to colleagues such as tax specialists who could also help you? And last, but not least, do you enjoy meeting them – after all, if you want a good accountant for the long term it should be a pleasure to work with them.
2. What are their credentials?
The best accountants are proud of what they achieve on behalf of their clients. Ask whether they work for people with similar businesses to your own, and look for evidence of their success. Do they display case studies on the walls? Do they feature their clients in the firm’s newsletter? Can they supply you with testimonials? Ask whether they are willing to put you in touch with other clients for an informal chat about their services. If they really are good they will be happy to refer you to satisfied clients – after asking permission of course.
3. What are their specialisms?
There are two sides to this question. Firstly, you need to ask yourself what services you want from your accountant. Are you looking for someone to take care of things like your tax returns and payroll, or are you looking for specialised tax or business advice too? The greater the range of services you need, the more expertise you’ll need from the company. Make sure the company has the right people to provide all the right services – and that you will have direct access to their specialists.
4. Will they save you money?
When you first meet with a potential new accountant, ask them how they hope to save you money. Don’t confuse low accountancy fees with value for money – instead ask how they will help you keep your tax bills as low as possible. If an accountant takes a proactive approach to your business as it changes and grows, it is worth paying a higher fee if the savings you’re likely to enjoy are also significant.
5. Will they work the way that suits you best?
This is really about flexibility – a good accountant will always provide services on your terms, not theirs. Ask whether they’re willing to visit your premises, or send someone round to collect your paperwork. Find out whether they offer you cloud accounting software and, if so, how often they monitor your accounts to spot potential savings or new tax strategies. Make sure they offer a Professional Fee Protection scheme to cover their costs if HMRC investigate your accounts – and are willing to drop everything and get to work when the taxman does come knocking. And make sure you ask what support you’ll get on an ongoing basis. Will they leave you alone for months on end, or will they call regularly to make sure they’re fully up to speed with your business? It’s remarkable how few accountants will do the latter, and it can make all the difference to the quality of service you receive.
These questions aren’t, of course, exhaustive; but they will give you a real feel for the ability, expertise and enthusiasm of any accountancy firm you consider. So when you finally feel ready to switch accountants, you won’t be stepping into the unknown but instead will be choosing a firm of people who want your business to succeed – and will work as hard as possible to help make it happen.
Would you like to learn more about how THP can help you and your business? Get in touch today for a free consultation with an accountant who is experienced in your industry.