Hiring an accountant is an important decision, whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting a business. When you’re deciding to bring one on board, here are some steps you can follow to make sure you get the right one for your specific needs.

Read on to find out: 

  • Financial tasks you can hand over to an accountant
  • Questions to ask before choosing your accountant
  • Other factors to consider: location, recommendations and saving on costs

What will an accountant do for me?

If you’re a director of a company, it’s not a legal requirement to hire an accountant. In practice, many businesses outsource accounting to save valuable time. Some use an accountancy firm for all aspects of their financial management as well as end of year tax returns. Other business owners will take care of the day-to-day admin themselves and use an accountant to organise and file annual returns.

As well as submitting company accounts and tax returns, an accountant can advise on tax matters, submit VAT returns and directors’ personal returns where necessary, organise the payroll, make sure you meet HMRC deadlines and help you to run your business in a more profitable way. Bookkeeping duties aren’t generally part of their remit for small business accounting, but many provide them as an add-on service for an extra fee.

What questions should I ask an accountant?

Many accountancy practices will offer a free consultation before you sign up. Here are some useful questions to ask:

  1. What are their fees and what’s included? 

Accountancy fees vary. Some practices send a bill once a year after completing the statutory accounts and tax return. Others allow you to pay monthly. While it’s hard to put an exact price on costs, one-off fees for small businesses and sole traders can be anywhere between £300 and £1200 for annual accounts. Check which services are included for the price — services like bookkeeping and payroll might be extra.

2. What kind of customer support is available?

Check how much support you’ll get. Even if you’re using software to do the daily admin yourself, you might still want to get in touch from time to time for clarification from your accountant. 

3. Will they send reminders ahead of deadlines and payments?

Running a small business takes a lot of effort and many hours of work but your accountant can make it easier to keep on top of admin by sending you reminders when your tax is due.

4. What software do they use?

Ask the accountant about the most efficient accounting software to help you keep on top of your financial admin. Accounting software for small businesses, like Countingup, can save you hours on bookkeeping admin by automating the time consuming aspects, and it’s more cost-effective than engaging a practice to organise all your records. The software integrates a business account, reconciliation and tax filing software into one easy-to-use app, which your accountant can connect to directly, and receive real-time updates on your business.

5. Are they chartered?

Chartered accountants are accountants who have undertaken extra exams and specialised work experience to become members of professional bodies. They are highly qualified professionals who can bring a wealth of experience to your business. You don’t need to use a chartered accountant for general financial management but if your business grows, they can provide an extra level of expertise.

Other factors to consider before hiring an accountant

Location

If location is important to you, then hiring an accountant close to your business will be high on the priority list. Remember that with cloud-based accounting software readily available, you could hire an accountant in Edinburgh while you do business on Brighton seafront. As long as your chosen accountant understands your business, the specifics of your country, industry, and you don’t mind video calls and email chats, you could potentially hire an accountant anywhere in the world. 

Ask for recommendations

Make use of your social or business networks for recommendations. You may have plenty of family members or friends who can recommend someone for the job. It’s even better if they know an accountant who has worked with businesses similar to yours. Try posting on LinkedIn for recommendations from other business professionals — just remember that what is good for another person’s business might not be right for yours.

Figure out how much work you want the accountant to do. An accountant can handle almost every aspect of bookkeeping but that will usually come at a price. A 2-in-1 app like Countingup offers competitive pricing and automates the time consuming aspects of bookkeeping for over 34,000 business owners.

Saving your business money

Remember, the best accountants aren’t only ones that manage your books, they proactively look for ways to save you money. Make sure you choose one who will offer up suggestions to cut costs, increase margins and be as tax efficient as possible. 

It comes down to personal preference but choosing the best accountant and the right accounting software can create the ideal environment for your business to grow and thrive.

Countingup is the 2-in-1 business current account and accounting software. It automates bookkeeping and simplifies tax returns for business owners across the UK. Learn more here.

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