Choosing an Accountant
We at Scott Vevers believe that selecting the right accountant and accountancy firm for your business is a very important decision, especially since anyone can set themselves up in business and call themselves an accountant.
Here are our suggested pointers for selecting the right accountant:
Qualifications – Look for a Chartered or Chartered Certified Accountancy practice.
Accountants can only become Chartered or Chartered Certified by passing very rigorous examinations set by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
The ICAEW is the largest professional accountancy body in Europe with over 125,000 members. The ICAEW's Chartered Accountants qualification is globally recognised as a prestigious business qualification. Qualified members of the Institute are entitled to the description Chartered Accountant and to the letters ACA or FCA, depending on experience and length of membership.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants offers the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification and the designation ACCA or FCCA, depending on experience and length of membership.
To maintain Chartered or Chartered Certified status an accountant must complete an agreed number of hours training each year (known as CPD or continuing professional development) to make sure their skills and knowledge are kept current.
If your company needs to be audited you will also need to choose a firm that are registered auditors.
In essence you should look for an accountant who has professional qualifications and a firm labelled Chartered Accountants to make sure your financial matters will be handled and supervised by fully qualified personnel.
Type of Firm –Your accountancy firm needs to offer the breadth and depth of services needed by your business as it grows. For example as you set up and certainly as you grow you will need expert tax advice. As a new business you may need advice on incorporation and company secretarial responsibilities. A business of any size is likely to need general business advice and support with business planning – make sure the firm you choose has the experience to provide these services.
Check out their areas of specialism – for example do they already work with businesses in your industry or sector? Have they experience of helping businesses in your particular circumstances? Do they offer specialist support with things like payroll processing, succession planning, raising finance and accounting software?
Choosing a firm that matches the needs of your business is crucial if you want the right advice and support.
Personality – your accountant needs to be easy to get along with and willing to go one step further to deliver an added value service to your business. They should be interested in your business and in the business world in general. The best accountants are those who are running their accountancy practice as a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise themselves and can therefore bring this experience to bear in advising you.
Sometimes your accountant will need to give you tough advice – or tell you you’re doing something wrong. You need to have respect for them and be able to argue your corner so that together you come up with the best result for your business.
Technology – Look for an accountancy firm that is making good use of the latest IT to deliver services more efficiently to its clients.
With the latest secure systems and online servers many documents which might previously have taken days to arrive in the post can be exchanged almost instantaneously online.
Select an accountant who can advise you on the right accountancy software should you choose to do your book-keeping in house.
Recommendation – choosing an accountant or firm who are well respected in a particular area will give you confidence. If you can get a direct referral from a business associate or professional contact even better. Your accountant also needs to be well connected – they should know the local banks, finance providers and solicitors and be able to pull together a team of professional advisers for you should the need arise.
If you’ve reviewed an accountant on these five factors you should have selected a firm and an individual who will work with you as your business develops.
What can you do if your existing accountant doesn’t measure up?
You shouldn’t stay with any supplier if you don’t think they are doing a good job for you. And switching accountants is not complicated. In fact switching is easy and follows a recognised path. Once you have told your existing accountant that you have decided to move and authorised them to hand over information your new accountant will approach them to obtain all necessary files, a copy of your last accounts and tax returns and a breakdown of figures. Your old accountant may hold onto your information until any outstanding bills have been settled between you and them but normally this is a very straight-forward process.
You can change accountant at anytime in the year, although it may be more costly and inconvenient to switch just before your year end. An ideal time is just after your last year’s accounts are completed.
For a free discussion about your accountancy requirements with Scott Vevers Chartered Accountants please contact us.
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Scott Vevers is the trading name of Scott Vevers Ltd. Registered in England - Company No: 06640217. Registered Office: 36 Corfe Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT3 5RH.
Scott Vevers are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.