Choosing the Right Accountant
“I had the opportunity to go to law school, and my dad, who was an accountant, couldn’t believe I wanted to walk away from that and start cooking.” – Curtis Stone
The vast majority of small businesses use an external accountant. Complying with HMRC and all the legal filing regulations is a complex and ever changing task. It is perfectly legal (and possible) to do it yourself, but very few entrepreneurs really have the expertise necessary or the time to be away from their real business so choosing the right accountant is important.
Once you decide to use an accountant though it is worth considering carefully which tasks you want an accountant to perform.
In a full service offer an accountant will do all your forecasting and budgeting, day-to-day bookkeeping, manage payments in and out, produce monthly management accounts, cash flow forecasts and analysis, do payroll and VAT returns – essentially acting as a financial director.
The accountant may, additionally, sometimes also be a valuable business advisor, assisting in strategy and profitability enhancement. If you require it they will also provide a business owner’s own personal tax return in parallel with that of the company.
In a different relationship, a business will have some of these tasks done internally, some outsourced to different expert advisers and then use an external accountant simply to compose and file annual returns and provide independent oversight. This approach requires more management, is generally less expensive and creates less dependency on a single provider.
If your business is in a specific sector with unique requirements such as property, construction or financial services then it really worth ensuring that you use an accountant with specific expertise, rather than a generalist and choosing the right accountant becomes even more important.
It is always worth carefully choosing the right accountant … this might not seem important at the beginning but as you get going it will determine how much time you will need to spend on the finance side of your business.
Yorkshire Powerhouse Key Recommendation: You do not need an accountant to register a business and you should not chose one based on who you meet first at a networking event. Look for a match with your requirements, carefully consider their costs and take up references – ask your own network for recommendations.
Your accountant is your critical friend – you need them to support you AND challenge you. When considering an accountant, their personality and style must match your approach and expectations.