Hines Harvey Woods: Choosing an accountant that is right for you and your business

Choosing an accountant should be given the same amount of time and thought process as choosing suppliers or premises of your business...

Choosing an accountant should be given the same amount of time and thought process as choosing suppliers or premises of your business. Make sure they have in place the right services and structure that will enable your business goals to be achieved, minimise tax and assist you to be more profitable in the long term.

Ensure you choose an accountant who deals with similar size businesses to your own. Try to use a small or medium size practice in the early years as you are more likely to be dealing direct with an experienced partner. Their costs are likely to be lower and more in line with your expectations. If your business does grow you can consider change then. Use the experiences of suppliers or customers to gain information about their accountants and recommendations. Arrange meetings with at least two firms and insist on meeting with the people you will be dealing with not just the 'face of the firm'. The first meeting is invariably free of charge. Consider asking them to come out to see you. If they cancel or are late it may be a sign of things to come. The chances are that if they are interested in you at the initial interview this will come through in their future service. Always ask for a written quote and do not be afraid to ask questions about their background, experience, qualifications and services.

Remember the true cost of an accountant is not the amount of fees you pay them. It might actually be the opposite. An accountant whose fees are low might give such a poor service that deadlines are missed and taxes are overpaid. No business growth advice may be given or problem signs spotted before they become large and costly.

However, above all your accountant must be somebody who you can communicate with regularly, who you are not afraid to ask any question (no matter how trivial) and somebody you are comfortable with. People in the financial sector can often talk in jargon: make sure you understand them and they speak your language.

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Business owners must use good judgement in selecting their accountants and financial advisors. Remember, it is your business success and your taxes that are being affected.

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