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Questions to ask when hiring an accountant

Although it is possible to handle your own business accounts, it can really pay to find an accountant to look after your finances. However, after you’ve made an initial appointment to meet a potential accountant, you’ll then need to find out whether they are capable of doing the job and are compatible with you and your business.

Asking the following questions will help you work out whether they are someone you would trust with your business’s accounts.

  • Qualifications:

    What qualifications do you have? – Anyone can start trading as an accountant, regardless of qualifications. Make sure an accountant is chartered, as they will have passed numerous exams and undergone a lengthy period of work experience. They’ll also have Professional Indemnity Insurance, so they’re legally covered for the advice they give.

  • The basics:

    Can you do my annual accounts? – This is the first thing you’ll want an accountant to be able to do. They should be experienced in calculating cash flow, profit and loss accounts, and balance sheets so you’ll both have an accurate overview of how your business is doing.

    Can you keep me tax compliant? – An accountant should be able to keep you right at the end of the financial year, knowing what documents are needed to be compliant and up-to-date with tax law.

  • Bookkeeping:

    How will you ensure I never have financial problems? – Your accountant should be able to advise you when making business decisions, such as taking on an employee or moving premises. Find out what experience they have with businesses similar to yours.

    Who will handle my accounts? – Ideally, you’ll want to deal with the same person each time. See whether the accountant gives work to a subordinate, or outsources work to other firms. Also enquire as to who’ll be creating your invoices and entering purchases – you or the accountant.

  • Software:

    What accounting software do you recommend? – Software can help you keep your accountant informed of any income and outgoings, so see if your accountant uses a particular one.

  • Cost:

    What are your fees, and when would I pay them? – Some accountants charge by the hour, while others operate on a monthly retainer. They may also charge extra for certain services, so be sure of what you’re actually paying for.

  • Growth

    Can you help me with investment funding and tax relief? – An experienced accountant should be able to see what types of funding are available for a business like yours, and know if there any tax refunds you’d be eligible for.

  • Solutions-led:

    How can you improve my business’s results? – Your accountant should be pro-active and offer ideas as to how you can improve your bottom line. They should help you structure your company properly, and warn you away from anything that could harm your profits.

  • The right fit:

    Finally, it’s important to feel that you can get on with your accountant on a personal level. Are they helpful and explain their processes openly? Ask whether they’d always be available to discuss your finances whenever needed.

    The right accountant will be one of your most trusted advisors, so it’s important to be able to work closely with them potentially for many years to come.