How to choose a good accountant

How to choose a good accountant
Choosing the right accountant can save you time and money every year – whereas the wrong accountant could potentially have the opposite impact. The question is, in a world with so many practicing accountants and book keepers to choose from – how can you be sure if the person you’re talking to is any good?

If you’re looking to hire an accountant, engage them sooner rather than later. Getting an accountant in early to assist with tax preparation, bookkeeping tasks and general financial management is far better than waiting until the tax office.

1. Qualifications

Choose a certified accountant or chartered accountant. Most countries regulate accountants through professional bodies that supply accounting qualifications and try to maintain high professional standards. Accountants governed by these professional bodies – who have sat extremely difficult exams and have workplace experience to achieve their role and title – may be called a Chartered Accountant (CA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), depending which country you are in.

While some tasks such as bookkeeping, tax preparation and general financial management don’t require a qualified accountant to look after them, if you’re audited or in need of a loan – qualified accountants are recommended to assist. To start with, try to find someone who specialises in the area that you need assistance. Ie. Tax Returns, Home Loans, Business Audits etc.

2. Seek preferred accountants

If you’re a small business you could seek out an accountant through the local chambers of commerce or voluntary organisations looking to help you grow. Business networking events may also be helpful. If you’re an individual, you may like to ask friends if they can recommend someone in the area. Start the conversation and make use of your connections where you can.

3. Search social networks

Along with searching through the <a href="">Search4Accountants directory</a> you can also put a call out to your friends and family on social media and even search social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook pages to help you find an accountant. Also check out any reviews and how highly regarded they are online before you employ their services.

You can also check who the accountant is connected to, or who of your friends is already following them. Have a look at how they talk about their services in a public forum, and check what experience and all credentials they have.

4. Other questions to ask

As with any interview process, it’s a good idea to prepare and have some questions ready to ask.

- How will they divide the accounting work? Do you just hand over your bills and invoices and they do the rest? Or is more preparation expected at your end?

- How much do they charge and how often? Accountants generally charge by the hour, so making them do simple data-entry tasks is not the best use of their time or your money! Get involved in the accounting process where you can – give them as much information and detail as you can.

- What accounting software do they use? Good quality accounting software (such as Xero) can make it easier for you to take part in the accounting process. It may simplify and automate the process – you can even sign your Tax Return online!

- Do they have a strategy they use to save you money? Some accountants are more focussed on assisting you to grow your business (if you have one). Check you both have the same goals before you work together.

- Are their fees negotiable? Will they provide quotes before they get started on the work?

- How do they prefer to communicate? Can you expect texts or calls? Or do they need face-to-face meetings? Set up your expectations for how to work with your accountant.

- Genuine accountants will have references available if you require them. Just ask the questions and make sure you follow up with the references to ensure this accountant is best for you.

For more information, please search the Search4Accountants directory.