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Whether you are hiring one for the first time or are looking at changing your accountant, picking the right one is important for any small business owner, sole trader, freelancer or limited company. From traditional high street accountants to online firms, there are plenty to choose from, so it’s important that you ask the right questions.

Here are 10 questions to ask when you’re on the lookout for a great business accountant.

What are your various fees and what do they include?

In the same way you wouldn’t head to the till without checking the price tag first, don’t sign up to accountancy services without discussing fees!

During your initial conversation or consultation, clearly establish what the price brackets are, and exactly what they include.

Similarly, find out what they don’t include in each one. You’ll learn what additional costs you might incur as the business grows in the future.

How and when will my accountant bill me?

Once you establish their various price points, ask about how and when they expect you to pay. Accountants work in a number of ways, from flat rates to hourly charges. Understand their billing, so you can factor the expense into your budget plan.

Can you help me save money?

A good accountant is one who ensures that your business never misses a deadline. A great accountant will ensure you’re tax efficient, and saving money as well.

 

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Will you assign me to one or multiple accountant(s)?

When clients join our service, we assign them to one personal accountant. This is who you will work with, and who’ll help you look after your business’s finances.

We avoid passing our clients around multiple accountants at all costs. A one-to-one working relationship is far more effective, but other firms will work in different ways.

This is a matter of personal preference, so it’s down to you to decide what works best for you, and hire the right accountant accordingly.

How accessible will my accountant(s) be?

It’s good to know that your accountant is available whenever you need them.

Online accountants can communicate by phone, email, and face-to-face meetings.

Of course, there may be times when your accountant is away or on holiday. It’s worth asking what happens in those circumstances too.

Are the accountants you work with qualified?

In any accountancy firm there are likely to be a variety of people within the workforce, ranging from trainees to senior members of staff. Whoever you working with, it’s essential that they’re fully qualified for the job they’re doing, and overseen by the right people.

Don’t be scared to ask this question through fear of offending the person you’re talking to. It’s important information that you are entitled to know. You wouldn’t trust a surgeon you knew wasn’t qualified, so treat your accounts with the same caution.

Which accounting software do you use?

This information is useful for gaining some insight into how they work. Knowing a little bit more about their processes will help you have a better understanding of how they deal with your accounts. It will help you discuss this more comprehensively along the line. If you are switching from a different accountant, this information might be more important to know for the changeover.

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How will you make sure I never miss a deadline?

When all is said and done, you’re hiring an accountant and spending money on a third-party service because you want to make sure your accounting is done right.

Asking this question will help you gauge just how effective a prospective accountant is going to be. You want their help in making sure your business is running tax-efficiently, your records are up to date, you’re compliant, and that you never ever miss a deadline.

It will be you who pays the fine if a deadline is missed, so you’re well within your rights to delve a little deeper into how effectively the company works.

How do you deal with complaints?

You’re not starting off on a negative foot by assuming that there will be things to complain about further down the line. It’s simply useful to know a little bit about the company’s complaints policy. A good accountant will have a robust one in place.

What other services do you provide?

As the saying goes, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Sometimes all it takes is one inquisitive conversation to find out what else they can offer, so you can get a little more for your money. For example, all of our clients have free access to our cloud-based bookkeeping software, Pandle and we offer unlimited advice and support for all of those who choose to use it.

Learn more about our online accounting services, or call 020 3355 4047 to talk to an advisor.

About The Author

Christopher Jones

Forensics graduate-turned copywriter and blogger. I love turning complex topics into easy to understand, yet engaging pieces of content.

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