How to Choose an Accountant
If you have decided you are going to beak out and create your own business then almost like finding a doctor when you move to a new town, you’ll need to find an accountant.
Although there is no legal obligation to work with an accountant, you should seriously consider doing so as early as possible. In fact if you wanted to you could do all of your accountancy work yourself , but you would almost certainly expose yourself to increased business risk if you do so.
A good accountant should be able to save you at least as much as they charge you each of your early years though helping create the best strategies for tax planning.
When you have been in business for a few years and you are well established and know a lot more about what you are doing then you may decide that you can bring some of your accounts work in-house, but there’s no point trying to do that at the outset. When you have to concentrate on getting the orders in and keeping the valuable new customers happy you won’t even want to be thinking about optimizing your tax situation. So leave it to the accountant.
Strangely, and somewhat scarily, anyone can become an accountant, you don’t actually have to have passed any qualifications. So here’s your first rule in finding an accountant for your business – ensure than the people you will be dealing with are qualified and registered with one of the main accounting trade bodies. That will bring you a degree of protection should you be unfortunate enough to work with one of the few rogues who are out there.
The main trade bodies are: The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAS). The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Be sure you know which your potential accounting partner is affiliated to, it should be at least one of these.
If you first rule is checking that the accountant is a bona fide professional, then the second is finding a practice that is suitable for your business. While a firm like PWC might have some of the world’s most qualified accountants, it will be structured to handle the affairs of multi-national businesses and while you might need them one day, you probably don’t yet. You want to find a partner who is prepared to hold your hand through your learning phase, but be big enough to help you as you grow too.
If your business is small and you have no intention of growing much then you might be better off finding a qualified book keeper who will cost less, but is less likely to be able to give the breath of tax advice that a bigger business might need. If you do grow you may need to move on to a business that can help run your payroll too.
Another important factor is just that simple thing of chemistry. You will need to share all sorts of topics with your accountant for them to serve you as best they can – so you need to get on with them.
You could do anything that your accountant will do for yourself. However doing so exposes you to unneeded risk, and will probably cost you in the long run.
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