A good accountant is central to the success of your business. But if accountancy isn’t your area of expertise, it can be difficult to choose the right person for the job. Use this guide to help you make one of the most important decisions for the future of your company.
Check their credentials
Your accountant will be entrusted with sensitive financial details concerning your business, so it’s vital that you can trust them. Before taking anyone on, be sure to do a background check.
- Check their accreditation. Anyone can masquerade as a business accountant, so to ensure that yours has the right background experience, check with the Institute of Accountants, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants or Association of Certified Chartered Accountants to ensure that they are registered and above board.
- Get references. Will your chosen accountant live up to the claims on their CV? Ask for at least 2 references from previous clients or employees. If possible, get feedback from someone who understands accountancy, so that they can offer an informed view on your candidate’s competencies.
Contract or in-house?
Do you wish to outsource your accountancy needs on a contract basis, or employ an accountant to work full-time, directly for your business? Your choice will depend on the size and scale of your operations.
- Hiring an accountant on a contract basis can be a good move for businesses just starting up. Your accountant is likely to work for an accountancy firm, and have you as one of several clients on his or her books. You might pay a higher hourly rate, but may not need to stump up for as many hours of work – great if your accounting needs tend to have seasonal peaks at year-end. You can benefit from the expertise and specialist accounting software that they have in-house at the firm. What’s more, with online, cloud-based accounting you don’t need to be based in the same town as your accountant.
- Employing an accountant in-house is more useful as your business grows. Having somebody within the business who can advise and direct on financial matters will prove invaluable as you begin to make strategic decisions that will affect the future of the company.
Specialist knowledge and experience
Does your chosen accountant have particular experience in your field or industry? Retail businesses may have different accounting needs to not-for-profit organisations or those in the education sector. International businesses, or those with subsidiaries, have their own complex financial set-ups that require particular group accounting software expertise. By hiring an accountant with a background in your industry, you could save yourself valuable time and resources by following their recommendations and piggybacking on their knowledge.
As your business grows, you will find that you have an increasing need for services that aren’t limited to basic bookkeeping. From tax advice to auditing assistance, choosing a business accountant who has a broader level of business expertise can be a smart move if you want your company to expand successfully.