How to choose an accountant

Starting up a new small business is an incredibly exciting time. It will be the beginning of a new period in your life and will be as a result of a great deal of research, planning and organising what you are going to sell or the services you are going to offer.

Taking those first steps in business are a whirlwind of events; sourcing office accommodation, marketing, employing staff and organising elements such as a website and social media in the lead-up to the big day; the launch.

In and among all the jobs which need doing, to get you off and running, is a particular area that is sometimes glossed over in the early days of business; finding an accountant. Many people across the UK make the mistake of entering business without one and then when it comes to filing a tax return at the end of their first financial year realise that they have issues which an accountant would have taken in their stride..

Who to use to safeguard your financial management

Choosing an accountant is a fairly straightforward job, but is one that needs to be carried out with your own needs firmly at the forefront of the selection process. Some accounts now operate online while others prefer face-to-face communication.

It’s vital that you check out the qualifications of any accountant you want to work with, as there are a limited number of accredited qualifications that are accepted within the industry and, if they can’t provide evidence of these certifications, walk away and look elsewhere. Accountants should be qualified through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (either ICAEW or ICAS) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). These organisations guarantee that their members are fully qualified to operate as accountants and, if for any reason there is an instance of bad practice, you have some protection, as members are held accountable for their actions.

What do you need and what do they cost

The accountancy needs of every business differ. From the completion of a straight forward tax return to handling the set-up of the company and being involved in major financial matters. It’s important to think at the outset about how you think the role of your accountant will evolve. The way to do this is through talking to those who are qualified and you feel you can build a working relationship with.

It’s also good financial management to find out the scale of fees that will be charged for their services, as factoring in the cost of an accountant is as important as budgeting for other areas.
Make the most of your dealings with your accountant. Talk to them and ask for guidance. If you aren’t sure on any financial matter that is either new to you or is one that you need guidance on before it possibly escalates into something that could be a challenge.

A good accountant will be there for you when you need them, whether it’s for a small number of tasks each year or a more thorough hands-on role. Find one who fits in with the ethos of your new company and you’ll be sure to enjoy a long, fruitful relationship that stretches into the years to come.

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