Choosing your accountant is a critical step in the start-up, growth or development of your business. Everything that you do in business has a financial impact: access to a trusted accountant is vital.
Know what you want
The more clarity you have about what you want and expect from your accountant, the easier it will be to select the one that is right for you. What exactly do you require?
- Accounts Preparation
This can be monthly and/or quarterly management accounts as well as the annual financial statements that you want to present to third parties such as banks, revenue, shareholders and employees.
It may be that you are happy to manage and control the administration of the basics but you want assurance that your compliance is in order. Again, this may be for the benefit of third parties such as financiers, revenue or statutory bodies such as companies registration office or may be internal systems and controls requiring establishment, review or audit.
- Strategic Planning and Development
This is where the greatest value can be added and is most often underestimated. It is ensuring that you are heading in the right direction, before you start, or reviewing your progress to ensure that you are staying on course. The areas include business planning, raising capital and finance, planning on all aspects of growth and development including major asset acquisition as well as mergers and acquisitions. It also includes advice and support on tax planning, asset and business divestment and succession planning, whether planned or caused by external circumstances.
How do you choose?
Knowing what you want is a great start, but as with all matters in business, be prepared to learn and retain flexibility. Ask the right questions!
- Talk to other business people that you know and trust and ask them about their experiences, both good and bad. These can include Customers, Suppliers, Bankers, Solicitors, Competitors as well as people in business that you know and respect.
- Ensure that the accountants that you use have the appropriate knowledge, qualifications and experience. This includes membership of the appropriate recognised professional bodies as well as particular knowledge of your own industry, if you feel that there is a level of speciality that merits it. Know where they provide ‘added value’.
- Talk to a number of accountants, not just one.
- Leave the meetings with specific written proposals to follow up. Make sure that you are meeting with the person who is going to be managing the relationship, not just the ‘business development’ element of the practice. Ensure that it is about the future of your business and not just the current state.
- Be compatible. If you do not warm to the accountant that you meet with, try another. The old adage of ‘people buy from people is true’. You want this relationship to move far beyond a trade for services into the realm of trusted advisor and above. It starts with a mutual respect and ‘likeability’ factor.
- Be vulgar – talk about the money. Have an understanding of what and how you will be charged and how the basis will change. Ask about, and expect, methods of payment that support you and your business. Don’t pick the cheapest unless they are the ones that will bring the greatest value.
- Make the decision and make a commitment, knowing that it is not irreversible.
Build better relationships for better business.
Consider your accountant to be a critical part of your team, someone that you can and will access where major business decisions need to be made. There is a tremendous value to be gained from an objective and independent view of your latest and greatest business plan, especially where everybody immediately around you thinks that all of your ideas are brilliant.
Ensure that you stay focused on the future of your business and that your accountant has the ability to help you get there and that there is a genuine opportunity for them to move from being a trusted advisor to being your partner in progress.
At UHY FDW we consider ourselves a business partner to all of our clients. Call us today to find out how we can help you continue to grow your business.