All accountants are the same right? Wrong. Just as no two business owners are the same, accountants aren’t either. The difference between an accountant that ticks boxes and one that rocks as your trusted advisor can be the key to success. Here's why...
Crunching retrospective numbers is the essential role an accountant has to keep you out of trouble. However, a savvy accountant can identify significant cost savings for your business, help with manging cashflow, as well as identify areas of opportunity.
Your accountant should save you 6 hours average per week (Xero report 2020) plus add value, be an expert ear to bend and help you to grow.
Switching to a new accountant can seem like a daunting task, but it's actually really simple.
If you’re not sure what to look for or indeed what you should be getting right now, we’ve put together a handy checklist. Your accountant should do all of the below… If they aren’t, it might be time to consider switching to one that does - shameless plug intended.
1. They are unapproachable and don't return your calls The traditional pinstriped accountant days are gone (hopefully) so your accountant should be approachable, accessible and actually get back to you. This is a basic, yet we hear about so many accountants that don't get back to their clients, or 'shut the shutters' - virtual or physical.
You should expect more from your accountant than just an annual bill! They should be aware of and involved in, your business finances so that they can offer useful and timely advice. This can make a huge difference to a growing small business.
2. They aren’t up to date with the latest technology Having up to date financial information, that's accessible 24/7 enables you to make quick, informed decisions about your business. Your accountant should embrace cloud accounting, such as Xero, Quickbooks etc.. If they’re avoiding cloud technology, it could mean that they aren’t performing as efficiently as they should be and could have a knock on effect with your business.
Look for an accountant that also uses a cloud platform such as Hubdoc or Receipt Bank to simply send your receipts over for processing. This is a massive time save for you and keeps everything nice and neat, paperless and efficient.
3. They don’t keep up to date with your accounts or are late filing Missed deadlines are not as rare an event as you'd think. It's the number one reason business owners vote with their feet. A rare event can happen, even for the most accomplished cruncher, but a common theme means they don't have the processes to ensure this doesn't happen.
It’s important to keep your expenses and bank accounts up to date. In order to do this effectively, you should be aware of your cashflow and how much money you need to set aside for tax purposes and other business expenses. If you don't get timely information, ask why not or vote with your feet. 4. They don’t understand your business, or what you do Your accountant doesn’t need to know every aspect of your business, but they should have an overall understanding.
If your accountant doesn’t understand your business, and hasn’t taken the time to learn, then it’s likely that they aren’t meeting your needs. A good rule of thumb is to look at the services they offer. If they don’t have packages focused on supporting different sized SMEs, then it’s likely they aren’t the right fit for your growing business.
5. Your accountant wasn't unaware of a rule or an allowance Many accountants continue to use the same rules from years - even decades ago. It shows a lack of care into their own professional development. They’re responsible for keeping on top of all changes and potential opportunities. If your accountant isn’t doing this then it begs the question, what else are you missing out on? You need to trust your accountant completely to be the expert on your business finances and what impacts them.
6. You get a 'ticking billometer' every time you contact your accountant The old fashioned 'time for money' methods are not really appropriate in todays value based business approaches. Monthly packages are best and help you with cashflow.
If your accountant starts the ticking billometer as soon as you call/email, then it's time to find a more modern and value based one. Even better - basic advice and support should be included in your monthly fixed fee package.
7. You’re never quite sure what additional charges they may add on You kind of know what they do, but are you sure about what’s included and what isn’t? Have you thought that something was included, only to then be told that it wasn’t? Or even worse, have you asked for something to be done, and then found that your next invoice has had fees added on? Your accountant should clearly spell out in writing, exactly what’s included within the amount that you pay in a monthly package.
8. They aren’t saving you money Cash is king. Your accountant should be an important part in maximising your profit and ultimately cash. They should be:
Saving you money on taxes
Identifying business cost savings
Making you aware of how you can do better
If your accountant hasn’t discussed any of these topics with you, it may be time to think about making a change will offer more to your business than just filling out tax returns for you and sending you an annual bill.
9. They may be doing everything they should be doing, but they aren’t doing everything they could be doing
It’s great if your accountant is meeting your expectations, however they are also there to help grow your business in any way they can. This includes acting as business and financial coach. This may mean a different monthly package as your grow, but is well worth the extra support to reach your goals and have someone hold you accountable.
10. You don't like them
An easy one, but if you simply don't get on with your accountant - get a new one.