The fact that you are even asking yourself this question is a good sign, as most people assume that accountants are all the same and that they offer only the statutory compliance and tax work. This, however, is to miss a huge opportunity.
The compliance work is important, so you should look for an accountant with a professional qualification. You need an accountant that you can rely on to get this aspect of things done well and with the minimum of fuss – leaving you with peace of mind and time to focus on running your business.
The trouble is, compliance work is historically focused, offers little detail, and is often hard to understand – so it is next to useless in helping you make decisions or run your business effectively.
Since you need an accountant to do these basics for you, and they need to get into your financial data to do that, why not choose one that will use their position close to that data to offer you additional insight at the same time? It seems to me that this is an obvious way to turn a business overhead and a grudge purchase in to something genuinely useful for you. For more on this, have a look at our article on how to turn costs in to investments.
A good accountant will be a partner for you in your business – one that you see regularly and therefore don’t have to waste time explaining problems to each time you meet. One that uses their experience and expertise to act as a sounding board whenever you need them. One that can help you see your business in a whole new light. One that shows you the future rather than adding up numbers after the event.
On that basis, here are my top tips for choosing an accountant:
- Choose one that WANTS to do the advisory part. An accountant who genuinely understands the value that they can bring to you and your business will be clearly motivated to help you in any initial meetings that you have.
- Given that the idea is to be a partner with regular contact, choose one that you have the right fit with. Crazy as it may sound, you need to find an accountant that you enjoy talking to – as this will make everything else so much easier and more effective.
- Choose one that cares about your business as much as you do, and who keeps your personal goals and motivations in mind at all times. Success is so much more than just the bottom line, and a good accountant will recognise this and help you achieve whatever is important to you.
- Choose one that values clear communication. There is little value in an accountant providing killer insight if you don’t understand it enough to use it. You need an accountant who can communicate in the way that you best receive information, and the patience to ensure you understand it fully.
- Choose one that is able to offer a service that is bespoke to your business. The last thing you need is an off-the-shelf productionised service, as even if this claims to offer more than just compliance it won’t be suited to you.
- Choose one that will see things that others don’t. The most powerful support you can get will be from someone who can get in to your business data at the lowest possible level, and pull it all together as a whole. This will reveal trends, insights, risks, and opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden amongst the noise and complexity of the business.
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