April 27, 2018 0

How to find the right Accountant?

How to find the right Accountant?

Rather than ruing a bad decision and feeling stuck with the services of an accountant not exactly matched with your requirements, it would be a wise decision to find the right accountant.  Before you start looking for accountant services, you need to first understand your requirements and check to see if the profile and competency of the accountant fits your requirements. While there are many ways to experience first-hand the competency of the accountant or agency, after you have hired them, the challenge is identifying beforehand.  Here are a few tips to help you find an Local accountants and also measure if you are with the right agency or accountant partner.

Checklist to find the right accountant:


Obviously this is something that you would have wanted to check out anyway. However, before you actually check out the credentials or certification of the proposed accounting service, you need to understand what those credentials mean, in the context of your requirement. Here is a brief list of titles that you may encounter in your search for an independent accountant or when you look through chartered accountants directory

  • Chartered Accountants (members of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland or Chartered Accountants Ireland – ICAEW, ICAS, CAI)
  • Chartered Certified Accountants (members of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
  • Chartered Management Accountants (members of Chartered Institute of Management Accounts)
  • Chartered Public Finance Accountants (members of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountancy)
  • International Accountants (members of the Association of International Accountants)
  • Authorised Public Accountants (members of the Association of Authorised Public Accountants)
  • Financial Accountants (Institute Of Financial Accountants)
  • Registered Book-keepers
  • Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians
  • Fellow Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians

It may be baffling to understand the scope of the services that can be provided by professionals with each of the above titles. However, before you attempt to do so, it would be best to understand your requirements first and then match it with the titles.

Accountants with experience in handling requirements of small business

Size does have a bearing to a certain extent when it comes to choosing an accounting service or qualified accountant. If you are a small business with limited requirements, you will find it easier to deal with accountants who specialise in services for businesses of your size. An agency that handles very large businesses will most certainly have workflows and processes that are designed to handle large volumes of transactions. While it would certainly be the most effective for businesses of that size and requirements, it would be difficult to expect the accounting service to become flexible and handle requirements of smaller businesses. The scale of operations vary, the manner in which teams are detailed will change, and consequently, the price band is also likely to change. Therefore, small businesses need to look at an accounting service or qualified accountant who caters to businesses of similar size.

Tech savvy service on the curve of digital transformation

Undeniably, this is the digital milieu, and without exception, digital transformation has and will touch every area of business either directly or indirectly. It is therefore best to choose an accountant partner who embraces technology for all processes and deliverables. For instance, if your independent accountant makes use of the latest application for accounting purposes you will benefit from greater efficiency in the processes. And an accounting service that is on the path of digital transformation will certainly make use of cloud computing, which will offer simplified access to services. Cloud computing in accounting will offer you swift access, from anywhere and at all times, across devices.

Extent of liaison with HMRC and Companies House

In addition to the accounting qualifications that you look for in accountants, you need to examine the extent of assistance offered for liaison with HMRC and Companies House. As a business you will need to be compliant with the regulatory requirements as laid down by the HMRC and Companies House. Additionally, you cannot rule out the possibility of having to respond to queries of HMRC and Companies House in matters related to the returns that you file. To do so, it would always be best to have professionals to assist you in clarifying, and setting things right, wherever necessary. Hence, when you start looking for accountant service providers, make it a point to verify about the extent of liaison offered by the services.

Support to prepare for Brexit

This is a relatively new filter and will be in place for some time, and will be applicable to businesses during the Brexit transition phase.  When you browse through the chartered accountants directory, there are chances that information would be furnished upfront about the nature of support for Brexit preparation. It would be a good idea to choose those companies who explicitly mention the support provided. An accounting agency that offers such support is certainly an indication of a well rounded agency and will be in a position to educate and assist you about the changed formalities. Of course, this may depend on the nature of your business, and transactions. However, for most business that offer products/services to the EU or vice versa, need to have adequate professional assistance to help navigate the maze of documentation that will be required. And there will be a small window for the transition, post negotiations of the UK government with the EU. Hence, businesses will have very less time to comply, and it would be best to use professional help, for best results.

Named contact for liaison results in better rapport

Having to deal with a single entity is always a great option that businesses would love. After all, no one would really like the prospect of having to deal with multiple entities for the same work. When you try to find an accountant for your requirements, make sure that the terms of engagement highlight the fact that you will be dealing with a named contact or contacts. This will help establish rapport and foster a better understanding and working relationship between you and the service provider. Consequently, it would be easier to resolve issues and seek scaling up of services as when there is demand. The dynamics of business will most likely result in surges and it is best to be prepared with a proper funnel and relationship between the business and service provider.

Location – local office

Regardless of where the service provider actually pushes the tasks electronically for processing, it is necessary to employ the services of an accountant/accounting service that has a local office. This way it will be easy to have adequate face time and resolve issues smoothly.  It is certainly not a very good prospect to be at the mercy of an outsourced partner who has an office elsewhere, without an actual office locally. While it is true that most of the offshore service providers match their timings to that of the businesses, it helps to have a local contact. Here again, while it is possible for a detailed explanation and briefing over electronic means, including sharing of documentation securely, there is nothing to beat an in person interaction, at least when it comes to the initial briefing and periodic interactions. Therefore, when you try to find an accountant, look for one with a working and properly staffed local office. And the local office needs to be staffed by professionals, with sufficient expertise on accounting. Without the right kind of expertise or involvement in the accounting requirements, the office will not be of much use.

Network and clientele

The bets metric for understanding the professionalism and competency of a service provider is to seek references and cross check with existing clients. This way you will surely understand a lot more about the service provider. And here, it is important to bear two aspects in mind while carrying out the check. One, the clients need to be from the domain or sector in which you are a player. In the absence of one in your area of expertise, you could look art clients in associated sectors. This way you will get a grasp of the expertise of the service provider in the context of the services or products that you deal with. Two, the clients that you seek out for references, should ideally be of two types – those who have been in a long term engagement with the accounting service and those who have just entered into an agreement. This way you will be able to understand if your immediate needs on taking up the service will be met. And you will also be able to understand if the service provider will be able to support you in the long run with consistent quality of services in a reliable manner.

So when you start looking for an ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) with membership from the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), bear in mind to consider the above. Similarly, if the accountant who manages your services meets all the above requirements, then you can be sure that you have hired the right professional or service provider. Another important aspect that needs to be foremost on your mind is data security. The service provider needs to have a robust system in place to safeguard your data, and be fully compliant with the UK Data Protection Bill and EU GDPR.

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