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How To Choose An Accountant - A Few Tips

  • Thread starter Scottish Business Owner
  • Start date
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
You've probably heard it lots of times but a good accountant really is worth it's weight in gold. We would suggest that you try and engage the services of an accountant as early as possible (and maybe even before) you start your new venture. It's always important to remember that a good accountant does more than just "do the books", they can also be a great source of support and advice as your business hopefully grows. We've also given you a few other pointers below:-

Ask for recommendations
Dont be afraid of asking other businesses you know (or indeed your friends and family) if they know any accountants that they would be happy to recommend. Try and speak with or visit at least two or three different accountants before coming to any sort of decision.

Dont be afraid to ask questions
People always seem a little bit nervous of accountants but there's no reason to feel like that. You need to get on well with your accountant and feel that you can ask them questions. During the initial fact-finding stage you might want to find out things like what their fee structure is, what type of businesses they tend to work with (it's always good to get an accountant that has experience working with smaller businesses) and maybe even ask them if they could put you in touch with a few of their current clients so that you can approach them for some feedback.

I think it's also important to mention that some businesses prefer just to use an accountant to do statutory filing etc and then use a book-keeper or a financial type person to do the more day to day transactional duties. This is also fine and it really is what suits you and your business best.

We hope that we've covered the basics and that this at least gives you some pointers. Feel free to share any suggestions that you may have as well in the thread below.
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
I couldn't do what I do without my accountant, because he's absolutely amazing. He works his way through everything, hundreds of invoices and receipts every month, and it saves me a lot of time. It's great to know that it's all sorted. You do definitely need someone who will work on the same wavelength and who specifically understands your area of business. There are so many tips & tricks that you just couldn't work out as an individual, and a good accountant can transform your finances completely!
 
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Robert Frost

New Member
I've got a fab accountant too - I made sure I got one in place before I started as I didn't want to have to deal with that side of the business by myself! Invoices and receipts, keeping track of every income and outgoing! nightmare!
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
I've got a fab accountant too - I made sure I got one in place before I started as I didn't want to have to deal with that side of the business by myself! Invoices and receipts, keeping track of every income and outgoing! nightmare!
I tried to do it all on my own for a long time, but then I realised that I was going to get myself into a stress. It was taking me hours and hours to sort everything out, so hiring the accountant was the best thing I ever did. I see him a couple of times a year to pile a mound of receipts on him, have one proper face to face meeting at the end of the tax year to discuss my tax return and the plan for the year to come, and that's it! He hardly charges anything (friend of the family) so it's not worth the stress of doing it on my own.
 
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ultrabold

New Member
nightmare!
Yes, nightmare :) I don't like it, too. Writing invoices is ok, but preparing tax stuff.. :confused:
I'm looking for an accountant now, too. And for my next call at an accountants office I'll remember to ask for references, before I come by for a visit.
The last one had to confess, that he has no references and experience with businesses like I do.
 
saltire

saltire

New Member
I think it's good if you never see your accountant as an expense. In the long run they should always save you money and there's also a value to just having everything kept straight and not having to deal with any HMRC issues etc.

It's a false economy for most people to try to do it themselves. Believe me I've learned the hard way!

Best to stick to what your good at and let them do what they're good at :)
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
I think it's good if you never see your accountant as an expense. In the long run they should always save you money and there's also a value to just having everything kept straight and not having to deal with any HMRC issues etc.

It's a false economy for most people to try to do it themselves. Believe me I've learned the hard way!

Best to stick to what your good at and let them do what they're good at :)
That's true - there are a few things that I'd never even realised I could claim for. Like a portion of the internet bill and my phone bill, and now I think about it it's obvious because I wouldn't need to pay as much if I didn't work online, so of course it's a business expense, but I just needed someone to point that out to me.
 
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Pete Brindle

New Member
I'm onto my fourth accountant at the moment, and I hate to speak too soon but it honestly feels as though I've finally found the right one. The first one was ridiculously hard to get hold of, and the other two didn't seem to have all that much of a clue about what they were talking about! So this new one seems to tick all of the boxes that I need, which is great so far.
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
I'm onto my fourth accountant at the moment, and I hate to speak too soon but it honestly feels as though I've finally found the right one. The first one was ridiculously hard to get hold of, and the other two didn't seem to have all that much of a clue about what they were talking about! So this new one seems to tick all of the boxes that I need, which is great so far.
Glad you've found the right one I will keep my fingers crossed that that remains the case for you. I can't stand it when people advertise themselves as being able to provide services that they're just not able to at all. It ends up costing a lot of time and money that could have been much better spent elsewhere!
 
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Branded Merchandise

New Member
I would also ask if they are a Chartered Accountant. If it a firm, ask who will be responsible for your work and whether they are qualified too. Having said that, my brother used a qualified accountant and they made an error on his tax return which cost him £1k + a penalty from HMRC. It was actually an absolutely ridiculous error. My brother had gone from employment to self employed in the tax year and (despite my brother giving him his wage slips and details from his previous employment) the accountant never factored in the salary he was paid for 6 months of the year!

So, I guess my advice is, even if you trust your accountant, there is no harm in taking a quick 15mins to look over anything they do. Just to make sure anything fundamental hasn't been omitted
 
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Pete Brindle

New Member
I would also ask if they are a Chartered Accountant. If it a firm, ask who will be responsible for your work and whether they are qualified too. Having said that, my brother used a qualified accountant and they made an error on his tax return which cost him £1k + a penalty from HMRC. It was actually an absolutely ridiculous error. My brother had gone from employment to self employed in the tax year and (despite my brother giving him his wage slips and details from his previous employment) the accountant never factored in the salary he was paid for 6 months of the year!

So, I guess my advice is, even if you trust your accountant, there is no harm in taking a quick 15mins to look over anything they do. Just to make sure anything fundamental hasn't been omitted
That sounds like a huge and unforgivable mistake on the behalf of the accountant there. I would have thought they should have paid the penalty if it was something that they had done wrong!
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
I would also ask if they are a Chartered Accountant. If it a firm, ask who will be responsible for your work and whether they are qualified too. Having said that, my brother used a qualified accountant and they made an error on his tax return which cost him £1k + a penalty from HMRC. It was actually an absolutely ridiculous error. My brother had gone from employment to self employed in the tax year and (despite my brother giving him his wage slips and details from his previous employment) the accountant never factored in the salary he was paid for 6 months of the year!

So, I guess my advice is, even if you trust your accountant, there is no harm in taking a quick 15mins to look over anything they do. Just to make sure anything fundamental hasn't been omitted
What did he do about that? Were you offered any kind of compensation for it?
 
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Robert Frost

New Member
I agree, my accountant is fantastic, I do give it a quick look over to see if I can spot anything blindingly obvious from my view but haven't so far
 
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andrew russel

New Member
If you are looking for a reliable accountant that specializes in contractor accounting, then you must consider a few things first. You must choose an accountant on the basis of credibility, compliance, expertise and professionalism. Your accounting fee should be a fixed monthly fees. If the accountant you have hired is a specialist in any field, then you should hire him right away.
 
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
If you are looking for a reliable accountant that specializes in contractor accounting, then you must consider a few things first. You must choose an accountant on the basis of credibility, compliance, expertise and professionalism. Your accounting fee should be a fixed monthly fees. If the accountant you have hired is a specialist in any field, then you should hire him right away.
Would you expect to pay a fee every month for your accountant? I only see mine a couple of times a year, so make two payments. Now, I know other people might have more things to sort out when it comes to finance, but certainly I don't think I'd want to make it a payment that I had to cater for every single month.
 
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Pete Brindle

New Member
Would you expect to pay a fee every month for your accountant? I only see mine a couple of times a year, so make two payments. Now, I know other people might have more things to sort out when it comes to finance, but certainly I don't think I'd want to make it a payment that I had to cater for every single month.
We have an accountant for our business who works on behalf of all of the staff. He comes in one day each week and has a meeting with each member of staff monthly to talk over finances. We pay for it, but do pay him on a monthly basis because we feel that finances are something that cannot be forgotten about, and having him there reminds people that they do need to think about their money.
 
Michelle Gregory

Michelle Gregory

New Member
Would you expect to pay a fee every month for your accountant? I only see mine a couple of times a year, so make two payments. Now, I know other people might have more things to sort out when it comes to finance, but certainly I don't think I'd want to make it a payment that I had to cater for every single month.
 
Michelle Gregory

Michelle Gregory

New Member
That's interesting to hear Gemma. Contractors get paid monthly so their accountant would be doing something for them every month.

My clients (sole traders through to limited companies) pay me on a monthly basis. It is beneficial for both parties - the client can spread payments and the accountant knows they will get paid.

I can see your view though - especially if it means extra work for you.
 
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