Unfortunately choosing the right accountant for your business isn’t as easy as jumping on Google and typing “good accountant Melbourne” or looking at a firm’s Facebook page! However, with a small amount of research and asking a few pertinent questions, you should greatly improve the prospects of engaging the right accountant for your business.
How Do I Find A New Accountant?
There are several ways to start your search when looking for a new accountant:
i. Ask colleagues and fellow business owners who their accountant is and would they recommend them,
ii. Visit third party websites such as http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/ (other small business owners and professionals providing advice and opinions) or https://thesbhub.com.au/ (run by ANZ and contains many checklists and templates)
iii. Google search – this may not tell you much about the firm other than they have a website and some core information, but it is surprising how many small business accountants have poor or no web presence. Do you really want an accountant who is a technological dinosaur?
iv. Ask your bank manager if any of their clients work with a good accountant or if they know of a reputable firm. Most business bankers have a portfolio of customers roughly of the same size so they may work with one or two accounting firms.
How Do I Find The Right Accountant For My Business?
So, you’ve asked around, done some digging and come up with a short list of a few firms you’re interested in finding out more about. Now what? Firstly, have a good look at the firm’s website. It should be relevant, up to date, explain their offering and hopefully have some testimonials from their clients. Secondly, give them a call. Ask them the following questions:
i. “I’m looking for a new accountant, can you please tell me a little about your firm?” – this should add some more colour and background to what you have seen on their website,
ii. “What type of clients do you work with? My business currently has turnover of $xxxx, does this fit with your firm?” – not every firm might be suitable for your business. Some firms only focus on certain industries, some on individual taxpayers / sole traders and others only on larger businesses (they may still service you but you will likely pay for the privilege)
iii. “What experience do you have working with businesses in my industry?” – while industry specific knowledge is not crucial (a lot of accounting, business and tax concepts are similar across industries) there may be some specific nuances in your industry that may be important your accountant knows,
iv. “Tell me about your service offering?” – Have the person explain to you what their core service offerings are, how they provide these services, what technology they use to make it easier for you to do business with them? Can they clearly and succinctly convey what their services are and how they may benefit your business?
v. “What do you charge?” – this question is often difficult for most accountants to answer as there are many variables that may determine the cost. How good are your records? Do you just require annual compliance or do you need a lot of ongoing assistance? How complex is your business, are you a sole trader or do you have 50 employees, operate in multiple currencies and have lots of transactions? So while you shouldn’t expect an exact quote on the spot, the accounting firm should be able to give you a range or at least explain how they charge.
Next Post - How To Choose The Right Accountant - Part Two