When you first set up your company, it is safe to say that the reason you did so probably wasn’t because you were excited to get filing VAT returns and accounts! So, for that, and many other reasons, appointing an accountant for your company is a wise decision, and one that should be thought about carefully. Not only will they be there to save you time and assist with the necessary fi ling requirements you will have for yourself and your company, they will also be able to keep you up to date with legislation that could otherwise pass you by. And with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, having an accountant to help guide you through the, sometimes bewildering, changes that may affect you will be a welcome relief.
So, what should you be looking for in an accountant?
The current coronavirus may have shone a light on your accountant and their ability (or perhaps inability!)to adapt to both changing circumstances (e.g. working from home) and changing systems (e.g. claiming furlough). If you have found there to be a dip in service levels during this period (within reason- let’s face it, this has been unchartered territory worldwide so some forbearance is important), or an unwillingness to help you navigate your way through these testing times that you are not happy with, then it may be time to switch. Now is a perfect time to get a feel from a new accountant as to how they are working during these unprecedented times.
Reasonable, fixed fee
It is fair to say that when it comes to choosing an accountant, there is an element of ‘you get what you pay for’, so simply picking one because they are cheap may well not work out best in the long run. Instead, you would be wise to compare what services you are receiving with what other firms offer and ideally choosing an accountant with a fixed monthly fee. The last thing you want is to find yourself being hit with hidden charges, or unexpected fees partway through your engagement, so it is always worthwhile checking exactly what you are going to be getting for your money.
Modern, reliable technology
There was a time when accountants worked solely on paper or excel spreadsheets. However, times have changed and there is so much amazing accounting software out there that there really is no longer any excuse for your accountant being stuck in the past. Using well established cloud software, such as FreeAgent, is much less time consuming not only for you, but also for the accountant which will leave them with more time to be proactive with the advice that they give.
Dedicated, qualified accountant
It’s really important for you to have a consistent point of contact for your accountant. When you are busy running your own business, the last thing that you want is to be speaking to someone different every time you ring up, or worrying that deadlines may be missed as you get passed from pillar to post. So, you should always check that you will have a dedicated accountant and find out exactly who you will be dealing with on a day to day basis, and also check whether they have a direct dial that you will be able to contact them on, rather than reaching a call centre.
It is also worth checking that your accountant is suitably qualified, whether that be through years of experience, or professional qualifications such as AAT, ATT ACCA, ACA or CIPFA, and that they have good experience in the contractor market. You should also ensure that the accountancy practice itself is regulated. That way, if you do have any problems, you will have the option to escalate these to their professional body (something that you wouldn’t be able to do if the firm is not regulated).
Confidence in your accountant
It is also very important that you have confidence in your accountant, and that they are accessible. You have enough on your plate running your own company and fulfilling your contracts, so the last thing you want is to be feeling like you are having to chase your accountant to ensure that deadlines are met and advice is given. It is also important that your accountant is approachable and on hand to answer any question you have, no matter how big or small. Accounting and taxation can be complicated, and whilst of course, you don’t want to be having to be undertaking some sort of accounting qualification yourself, you will want an accountant who is able to explain anything that you are unsure of so that you have confidence in what is being submitted in your name.
When you go on holiday, you’re not just going to take the word of the hotel that they’re amazing… instead, you ask around, check Tripadvisor etc. So, the same should go for checking out a potential accountant. There are various review sites for accountants out there (such as this one) that feature reviews from current/previous clients, where you can get a feel for how the accountants work from other clients’ perspectives.
PaperRocket Accounting provide accounting and tax services to professional contractors, freelancers, and small businesses working in the UK.
We offer our clients a flexible choice of fixed fee monthly packages which cover all of their accounting and tax needs (so no hidden costs or surprise bills!). All of our accounting packages include a monthly subscription for a cloud accounting software subscription provided by the awarding winning FreeAgent.
Each of our clients is given their own dedicated qualified accountant with unlimited access in person, telephone, or by email.
We pride ourselves on our client satisfaction and customer service and were awarded ‘Best Contractor Accountancy’ firm 2020 in The Contracting Awards and ‘Welwyn Hatfield Business of the Year 2019’ in the SME Hertfordshire awards.
To find out how we can help you please get in touch now.