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How to find an accountant that suits your needs

Small business owners often choose their accountant without doing the right kind of homework or even giving it careful thought.

Unfortunately, if you have selected the wrong kind of accountant for your particular requirements, unless you do something about it immediately, it becomes exceedingly difficult to switch at a later date. Your accountant becomes familiar with your financial affairs and the cost of switching can be high. There is also the problem of inertia because you are reluctant to disturb the status quo. It makes sense, therefore, to choose the right accountant from the outset.

Many experts announce that selecting the most appropriate accountant is equally as important as selecting the right doctor.  The most appropriate accountant should help you structure your business properly; benchmark your business with similar types of businesses and ‘diagnose’ problems that have been known to cause so many other small businesses to fail.  The right accounting firm should be able to help you determine the most appropriate financial strategies to follow.  Integrity is an important consideration because you would expect honest unbiased advice.  Some people believe that 60% of your chosen accountant’s business should come from the same type of business as yours.

Find a chartered accountant to whom you can relate.

While professional skills and quality of advice are important, personality is equally important and you should feel comfortable discussing your financial affairs. Your accountant should also take a genuine interest in your business and be pro-active in all the services that they render. Ask for a free consultation with several accountants to determine your degree of comfort.

You also need to be clear in your mind as to exactly what kind of support you are seeking. Some accountants will only provide accounting and taxation support while others will include a wide range of business consulting services. Generally speaking, a small accounting firm that can provide personalised service is the best fit for a small business.

Ask what your chartered accountant can do for you.  Because this is a two-way business relationship, don’t feel shy about establishing exactly what your accountant can do you. At the very least, they should save you enough money to justify your investment in their fees.
Ideally, they should be able to do a lot more – such as introducing you to potentially useful contacts from their network, such as lenders for your business. They should also be providing ongoing business advice to optimise your business operations. If your entrepreneurial style is aggressive, find an accountant with a matching style. 

Above all, don’t choose the accountant with the lowest charges. You want a competent professional and not a glorified bookkeeper. Keeping in mind that this is an investment and not an expense, look for the maximum return on your investment from your accountant.


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