How happy are you with your current accountant? Are you confident they know you and your business? Is it easy to contact them and do they overwhelm you with jargon?
Choosing the right accountant for you and your business is a key decision. Choosing the wrong one could spell disaster. They should be competent enough and have adequate knowledge to manage your accounting and help guide you with practical business advice.
And of course, they must be able to deal with the complex world of tax, so you don’t need to. If they don’t, IRD could impose hefty fines if your accounts and tax returns are a complete shambles.
The following advice will help you decide if it’s time to switch to a new accountant. Scrutinise it to arm yourself with information to help avoid costly mistakes your current accountant may be exposing out to.
How much do they understand your business and sector?
During your very first chat, you should be able to gauge whether they understand your needs, your business and the sector you operate in. Ask them questions that specifically relate to your business to test their understanding.
If you’re not reasonably confident that your current accountant has the sufficient knowledge, shop around. Ask for recommendations from people you know in your industry and chat with two or three accountants to compare their skills and knowledge.
How much jargon do they use?
Does your accountant bamboozle you with excessive accounting jargon and the latest buzzwords? You’ve engaged them to manage your accounting and tax obligations, not give you a Harvard University lecture. You need an accountant to speak in plain English, rather than belt out legal and accounting jargon every time you speak with them.
Do they hide their lack of experience and knowledge by spurting out confusing phrases or words? Do you think they do this to confuse you so that you don’t ask them questions?
Choose someone who speaks in layman’s terms and is willing to guide and coach you.
How easy is it to contact them?
Your accountant should be accessible and easy to contact – especially if you’ve got something sensitive or urgent you need to discuss.
When considering which accountant to engage, ask them how accessible they’ll be and what restrictions they’ll impose. Do they have a back-up if you can’t speak with them?
Are they up to date with current tax legislation?
Quite simply, you cannot afford to make mistakes with tax. Penalties can be severe. Your accountant must be able to manage your accounting and tax affairs to avoid you stressing about them.
It’s imperative that your accountant is constantly up to date with tax legislation and changes within the general economy. Badly managed tax can end up being expensive and be disastrous to you and your business. Prior to meeting your accountant, undertake a little research and then test your accountant’s knowledge.
Switching to a new accountant shouldn’t be difficult. Chartered Accountants are bound by specific rules and ethics laid down by their professional bodies. Choosing the right one can be the difference between success and failure.