Bookkeeping and Accounting are often kept in-house during the early phases of a company’s growth lifecycle. However, every successful organisation eventually reaches a point when accounting becomes challenging for a non-professional to handle. The next natural move for a company at a crossroads is to hire a qualified accountant.
Hiring an accountant is not just about finding someone who can crunch numbers and maximise your tax refund. You want to locate a reliable advisor who can assist you in making good business decisions.
But how do you choose the right one for your business? To find the best accountant, follow this 7-step checklist.
1. Know what you want
Decide whether you want an internal or external accountant first. Many hire an internal accountant because of the cost or the low volume of financial operations.
As a result, they use external accountants on a consultancy basis, which is usually less expensive than hiring a full-time or part-time employee. When a company’s transactions become large and complex enough that outsourcing them would be more expensive, they often consider hiring in-house accountants.
Determine which type of accountant you require after deciding if you need an internal or external accountant. Accounting professionals aren’t all created equally. Some specialise in certain financial chores, such as bookkeeping or tax preparation, while others have broader experience and can assist you in strategically planning many other elements of your business.
If all you need is someone to take care of the basic accounting and paperwork, it falls under specific expertise. However, if you want to hire an accountant to serve as a long-term strategic advisor to your company, think about the areas you think they can help.
2. Check if location matters for accounting work
Having your company’s accountant located close by used to be essential. However, more businesses are now cooperating online and managing their operations utilising cloud-based technologies. As a result, location isn’t as crucial as it formerly was. You and your financial expert can see the same real-time data using cloud accounting, regardless of where you are.
When it comes to selecting an accountant, it all comes down to what works best for your company. Your accountant could be located anywhere, depending on how you want to handle your accounts. For example, you may be in New York, and they could be in London. You don’t have to make compromises depending on your accountant’s location if they can work from anywhere.
On the other hand, you can prefer face-to-face contact and find it beneficial to have someone join you in business meetings. If that’s the case, you’ll need to limit your search to accountants who live in the area or are ready to relocate to your business regularly. Regardless of where they are located, ensure they’re well-versed in the tax rules related to your company.
3. Tap into your social networks
When it comes to selecting an accountant, the ideal option may be right in front of you. Begin by asking any friends or family members who own a business whether they can recommend an accountant. If so, why? And if not, why not? The answers to both questions may come in handy when it comes time to interview candidates.
Remember that choosing an accountant is a personal choice; what works for your best friend’s PR firm might not work for your company, say an amazon retailer.
Take into account differences in corporate structure as well. A sole trader accountant may not be the best option for a company with ten employees.
4. Make the most of your online relationships
Although Facebook isn’t the ideal place to ask for accountant suggestions, more business-oriented social media platforms may be more effective. LinkedIn is one of the best popular social networking sites globally, and if you already have a profile there, you may use it to find accountants who others have suggested.
There are five ways to gain more information from your social media accounts. Examine each candidate’s background using online platforms, learning things like:
- With whom do they have a connection? Is there a robust professional network in place for them?
- What language do they choose to describe their services? Are they passionate about their work?
- Do they have any recommendations from their clients? What do the recommendations mention in detail?
- What is their history? What were they doing before starting their company, and how long have they been in operation?
- What credentials do they possess? Is this individual a chartered or certified accountant, a bookkeeper, a financial advisor, or something else?
5. Ask the right questions
You’ll want to ask the right questions of the final selected ones after you have gathered all the background information and weeded out the bad seeds. You have to generally focus on essential details, such as pricing, services provided, certifications, and the software they will utilise.
However, you’ll want to ask more probing questions to figure out what makes them tick and whether or not you’ll get along. What is their customer service philosophy? How would they create a customised financial success plan for you?
Ask yourself if you could trust them with the most personal aspects of your business. If you think you will be able to work with this individual, that’s excellent. However, if your intuition says you “no,” leave away and continue your quest for the perfect accountant. Don’t worry; you’ll find one, and it’s better to take your time and discover the best fit for you and your company.
6. Select a Certified or Chartered accountant
Choose an accountant controlled by a professional body or government-recognised board.
Chartered accountants are qualified individuals who have completed post-secondary education, work experience, and a professional competency course. From the beginning, an experienced and qualified accountant can provide value to your firm. It is better to hire a skilled accountant sooner rather than later if you want your firm to develop.
Non-certified accountants – or those with a comparable professional degree – can be utilised for bookkeeping, tax preparation, and general financial management.
7. Check out what software the accountant uses
Accountants frequently use the accounting software that they prefer. They are most likely in the company for a while and are accustomed to a particular type of software.
It might be a problem. If your company uses various software, data exchange could be a challenge. However, data can be exported and imported in the correct format, and it is time-consuming and error-prone. Individuals can trace your sensitive financial data when sending it back and forth because email is as secure as a postcard.
So look for an accountant who utilises or is willing to use the same accounting software as your firm. They might use different accounting software for various clients. It is especially true if the software is easy to operate.
It’s best to agree to utilise industry-leading, user-friendly accounting software and only share adequately protected files. An even better alternative is to use collaborative, cloud-based accounting software with built-in encryption. It means you won’t have to be concerned about the hazards associated with data exchange.
8. Determine your level of comfort
The right accountant is the person whose financial guidance will assist you in making long-term company decisions. During tax time every year, you rely on your accountant for advice and adherence to legal regulations.
A professional accountant will not only create your tax records but will also sign them and represent you if you have any tax queries or issues. When dealing with such sensitive and crucial information, you want to be sure of your decision.
As your company expands, you’ll want to enlist the help and expertise of others. Finding a professional whom you can trust with your money can free up time and mental energy for you to concentrate on operating and expanding your company. The top accountants in London will play a crucial role in your company’s future expansion.
If you hire an accountant based on these guidelines, you will reduce the chances of making a wrong decision for your business. Never take a hasty decision when selecting an accountant. Take your time and do your research on different folks. Don’t make this decision lightly because your accountant will get intimately involved in the functioning of your business. You’ll need someone you can rely on, someone who has the required experience, and someone who will be there when you need them.