Hiring accountants: The essentials

What to look for when choosing your accountant

Hiring Business Accountants

Choose a business accountant that has experience of dealing with the size of your company now and in the future.

The background

Bear in mind the relationship is likely to be a long-term one, so invest time in finding one with whom you will have a good working relationship. Draw up a shortlist of at least three corporate accountants.

The process

A good place to start is to seek out accountants that operate in your sector. Bear in mind that you will need a business accountant that can deal with your business as it grows. Consider your long-term business ambitions – can your accountant cater for these needs? Your accountancy firm needs to be like a pair of children's shoes – a good fit now, but room for growth. And there's no point having a passive accountant. Look for proactive input, with suggestions of practices you should be following today in preparation for the next stage of growth. By doing this you will save significant sums of money in the long-run, with intelligent tax solutions and an awareness of available benefits.

Questions to ask

Find out which companies you aspire to emulate and retain and seek references from them, not companies like yours. Create a strong brief based on the knowledge you glean from your research. What do you expect from your accountant? How do you want monthly and quarterly management accounts to look, be presented and what must they contain? What are your expectations in regards to payroll handling? Consider your statutory accounts, annual tax returns, company secretarial duties and audit requirements, as well as what you will expect of them in future should you raise large sums of finance or float on a capital market.

Need to know

When you enlist the services of an accountancy practice it will make you sign a letter of engagement as you can only use one firm at any one time. Check what is included in your first meeting and whether you will be charged for it, as any business accountants worth their salt will offer the initial appointment free of charge. Establish from the outset the likely fees, when they are payable and get a set of terms and conditions before making your decision.

There are also a number of professional organisations where you can search for corporate accountants based on region, such as the website of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Also ask at your local Chambers of Commerce and tap into the local business network.

Top tips Once you have hired a business accountant, bear the following in mind.

… Maintain regular contact, not just when you are filing tax returns

… Inform your corporate accountant of any changes in your business or if you have any financial concerns

… Review the fees you are paying every year

… As your business expands, reassess whether your choice of business accountant is appropriate

Finally, don't forget the point about chemistry. It's crucial, so make sure you like them and they understand you.


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