Do you need an accountant? Maybe you’re savvy with numbers, or think you could go through the guidance yourself to work it out. Or, maybe you’re not too sure what an accountant even does and if they are worthwhile?
In answer to the question, no. You don’t need an accountant necessarily. There is no legal obligation to appoint an accountant, have an accountant file your taxes or prepare your accounts. But equally, you don’t need a mechanic to service your car, or a plasterer to plaster your ceilings. You could do all these jobs, if you wish.
A short while ago, I decided it would be interesting to fit a smart doorbell to the front of the house. It was great to do something different for sure, but it took me a day, multiple trips to the DIY store, about one hour of YouTube videos trying to learn the basics in electrics and £50 in equipment I know I won’t ever use again. Yes, it worked, but do you think the finish was good? Was it a practical use of my time? Fortunately, I didn’t hurt myself in the process, but I could easily have.
And guess what, when someone came by to re-fit my work, it was done within an hour, it looked better and it probably didn’t cost me much more.
Put another way, would you want an accountant to fit your smart doorbell? I didn’t think so.
What does an accountant do?
Good question. Quite a bit, if you appoint a good accountant. First and foremost, they ensure you are meeting your obligations as a business owner. That is filing your taxes, preparing accounts and ensuring you are keeping accurate and relevant records. Depending on how you are set up, for example as a Director of a Limited Company you own, or a Sole Trader, they will ensure you remain compliant.
It’s about protections and reassurance, so HMRC are happy, Companies House are happy, your shareholders and bankers are happy and you are happy. The last thing you will want, especially if your business is new, is HMRC breathing down your neck with overdue taxes, or suspicions around your trade.
But good accountants go beyond that.
You see, it’s about paying the correct amount of tax. That is making sure you don’t pay any more than you should, that you use all the reliefs and schemes available to you properly, that fit your business best, so you are not overpaying tax.
But equally important, you are not underpaying tax, either through suspect avoidance or even worse, illegal evasion.
But then, great accounts go even further.
Planning ahead, utilsing technology, implementing procedures and deeper, more insightful analytics. Now you’re in the realms of a great accountant. Great accountants are assets in their own right, they give businesses an edge, in analytics, foresight and technical knowledge. If you consider your accountant a partner, an advisor, a confidant, those are hallmarks you have a great accountant.
What to look for in an accountant?
It’s not commonly known that accountancy is not a regulated industry. Like I can call myself a doorbell fitter, anyone can call themselves an accountant. But there are a few quick checks to make sure your accountant is going to be good, or great … and not cause you more trouble than worth.
- Does your accountant have credentials? Look for affiliations with recognised bodies such as the ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA or ICAS. Then, check their directories. Can you find them?
- Is your accountant insured? All accountants should have PII (private indemnity insurance) which covers them in the event of errors or issues caused on their behalf.
- Do they have positive reviews? Check their social media or review channels, see if you can identify positive reviews.
- Will they offer a free consultation? Why should you jump straight in with an accountant? Will they offer the chance to talk things through before committing?
- Are they familiar with technology? Cloud accounting can give businesses a serious and affordable advantage and working with an accountant who is familiar with these tools will help in the long run.
- Do they listen to you? Some accountants can put you on the on-boarding conveyor belt, whereas other accountants are much more considerate to each client and their own needs. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important traits in a great accountant.
After you’ve conducted your research, use that free consultation to check in on all those things. Get comfort not only in them as a professional, but that they also understand you and your business.
Once you’re happy, you should formally engage in a contract with them. With a good or great accountant on board, you are really starting on the right foot.
We’re proud to say that we offer all of the above. Charter holders and practicing members with globally recognised accountancy and tax bodies, over thirty years of combined exeprience, insured, with fabulous clients who can attest to our care. And of course, we always welcome a free, no obligation consultation. We love our systems and we love to listen to understand what really matters to our clients.
If you want to see if we can be your great accountant, why not get in touch for a free, no obligation consultation.