Before committing to working with an accountant it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. It can be really difficult to compare quotes from different firms as each one is likely to structure their fees differently. We believe there are a few things that you should always check before handing over your businesses.
Is the firm or individual a Chartered Accountant?
By law anyone can call themselves an accountant. The title ‘Chartered Accountant’ and the letters ACA, ACCA or FCA, however, indicates that the people working for the firm have undertaken a minimum of three years in-depth training, passed a series of rigorous examinations in financial management, auditing, business strategy and taxation, and committed to continuing professional development to keep their skills up to date.
Although unqualified accountants are subject to the same laws as chartered accountants, ICAEW Chartered Accountants are bound by a Code of Ethics and subject to disciplinary procedures. They are required to hold a practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance if they offer professional services to the public.
So for the best advice and peace of mind that your money is in safe hands, we strongly recommend you pick a Chartered Accountant.
Are they technologically up to date?
The government’s Making Tax Digital initiative is underway and will effect all business owners. With this on the horizon and the brilliant cloud accounting software now available, there’s no reason not to have your accounts online. If you come across an accountant who squirms when you say you’d like to use Xero or Quickbooks online, or worse hasn’t heard of them, then we urge you to steer clear. Cloud accounting is the future and if you can find an accountant with expertise in this area then you’re on to a winner.
It’s also worth asking about other technological efficiencies the firm offers. For example, do they accept e-signatures? Do they send automatic reminders via text and email? If everything is still being sent by post and there’s stacks and stacks of paper in their office this is not a good sign.
Will you receive training and support on any new software?
Working with a new bit of software can be daunting and although the internet offers answers to most questions, there’s nothing like an actual person to help you get to grips with it and get the most out of it. If an accountant isn’t happy to provide training and support on the software they recommend you use then we’d see this as a red flag. You need to work with someone who understands the system better than you and you can feel confident in their recommendations.
Do they offer a fixed monthly subscription?Before committing to working with an accountant it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. It can be really difficult to compare quotes from different firms as each one is likely to structure their fees differently. We believe there are a few things that you should always check before handing over your businesses.
Do they offer a fixed monthly subscription?
If you want to budget effectively and manage your cash flow more easily then you want to look for an accountant who offer a fixed fee monthly subscription. This is much more common than it used to be so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
What’s included in the fees?
Fixed fee can often be a bit misleading so make sure you ask for a breakdown of exactly what’s included in your fee. For an example of this, or to use as an a comparison please see what’s included in our fixed fees.
Will they charge you extra for meetings and calls?
It’s a common complaint – you called your accountant to ask a simple question and next thing you know you’ve got a whacking great bill that you weren’t expecting. Make sure you’re really clear on whether or not ‘talk time’ is included in your fee.
Will they be proactive in offering you advice and guidance?
Many accountants get accused of ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to answering questions on how best to structure a business or save on tax. It’s also a familiar moan that they don’t warn you that you’re heading for a large tax bill or offer feedback on your accounts. With advances in compliance technology the role of the accountant is changing and you need to look for one who will proactively work with you to ensure you’re aware of any potential opportunities or pitfalls.
We understand it can be a daunting thing looking for a new accountant. We like to make it as clear as possible what you’ll get as a client of The Peloton. If you have any questions about our fees or a quote you’ve received from another accountant we’d be more than happy to answer them.
Speak to one of the team on 01326 660022