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How To Find The Right Accountant

How To Find The Right Accountant

Make no mistake, your choice of an accountant is one of the biggest decisions you will ever have to make regarding your business. After all, they’ll be in charge of all the money, so the wrong decision here could severely impact both your livelihood and the future growth of your small business.

The selection process certainly isn’t made any easier by the fact there are just so many auditors, accountancy firms, and specialist contractor accountants for you to choose from. A quick Google search will present you with literally thousands of different options, leaving you scratching your head and feeling just a little overwhelmed.

But there’s no need to panic just yet, because we’ve put together a quick 6-step guide on how to find the perfect accountant for your business.

Why Do I Need An Accountant?

This is a question many freelancers, contractors, and small business owners regularly ask, since they’ve become so used to doing everything else by themselves. However, for most of them, the need for a qualified, experienced accountant is simply unavoidable; since they just can’t achieve the required levels of efficiency, expertise, and organization without a background in accounting.

The same is probably true in your situation. A reliable, experienced accountant will offer invaluable knowledge and advice, using their expertise to help drive your business forward and deal with all of that daunting paperwork. So, how do you find the right one for you?

Step One: Consider Your Own Requirements

The first thing you need to consider is what you’re actually looking for and what your business needs. It’s true that no two businesses are the same, so you need to think long and hard about what kind of accountant will work best for you, rather than simply choosing a firm because it’s based around the corner.

Freelancers and contractors will need a specialist accountant, for example, since they’ll provide superior levels of knowledge in the relevant areas; while larger businesses might find it beneficial to deal with a more generic firm.

Whatever your requirements, make sure you’re only looking for accountants that provide the necessary services.

Step Two: Check Out Their Qualifications

When outsourcing your accounts, you’ll obviously want to make sure you’re leaving them in capable hands. Most reputable accountants will be regulated by a professional body and hold all of the necessary certifications, so you should only really think about dealing with certified accountants if you want to give yourself some peace of mind.

A certified accountant will hold all the required qualifications and offer a wealth of experience, meaning you can always have confidence in their advice and take advantage of their invaluable knowledge right from the get-go.

Step Three: Research Their Reputation

Once you’re assured they’ve got all the relevant qualifications, you need to have a look at what other people are saying about the accountant in question. Thanks to the internet and social networking, this is now much easier than it’s ever been before, since you can just hop online and have a read through some of their most recent customer reviews.

A professional accountant should have a series of testimonials on their own website, too, demonstrating some of the fantastic work they’ve done in the past. You should also take a look into whether previous (or existing) clients would recommend them, as you start to build a clearer picture of their reputation in the industry.

Step Four: Look Into Costs

Unfortunately, no self-respecting accountant is going to offer their services for free, so you need to spend some time looking into the costs involved and making sure you’re getting excellent value for money.

Different accountants will offer different packages and pricing structures. Some accountants will charge by the hour, while others may charge a monthly retainer; some will offer fully-inclusive package deals, while others will continuously add on extra costs.  Either way, we always recommend trying to negotiate these fees and then asking for the billing arrangement in writing.

Step Five: Consider Location

Thanks to the rise of digital workspaces, video conferencing, and other cloud-based solutions, location is no longer a key factor when selecting a new accountant. You can keep in close contact with them from almost anywhere in the world, communicating with them regularly through direct messages and web chats, while the shared workspaces make it easier for you to keep a handle on the accounts themselves.

However, if you’d prefer to regularly meet up with your accountant face-to-face, then you’ll want to make sure they’re based within convenient travel-distance.

Step Six: Trust Your Gut

In many instances, this can prove the deciding factor. Your search is bound to lead you to multiple websites and articles, as you read through a plethora of impressive testimonials, case studies, and recommendations.

There’s also a good chance you’ll end up contacting and meeting more than one accountant, with each one sounding just as impressive as the last. If all else fails, sometimes only your gut can tell you whether an accountant is a good fit for your business, so maybe it’s time to listen to what it’s saying.

Choosing an accountant is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make, but following these 6 steps will make it easier for you to make the right choice.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.