How to find a good Accountant
Using the services of an accountant either for your personal or business finances in an invaluable asset when it comes to reaching your goals. Many of us tend to associate accountants with dealing with taxes, and whilst this is certainly a key part of their role, a good accountant can do so much more for you.
What’s the difference between an accountant and a financial planner? A useful analogy is that if you were in a car, your accountant is looking out the back at where the car has been and how it has got there. In contrast, a financial planner is looking out the front where the car is going and ensuring the driver remains on course for their future. Of course, their areas of expertise differ too, an accountant knows their way around tax and compliance however they don’t deal with recommending investments, pensions or putting together a financial plan, this is where your financial planner comes in. Therefore, depending on your needs and circumstances you should always speak to both in the first instance.
So how do you find an accountant that is going to put your best interests first and one that you can trust with such personal and often delicate matters? We cover 5 of our top tips for finding the right accountant for you below.
Look out for reviews, recommendations and testimonials - similar to buying an expensive product online, often one of the best ways to know what you are buying is to see what others think. Which of their services receive the most mention in their website testimonials? Are the testimonials up to date? The answers to these questions, along with the general gist of the comments, should help you get a taste for their level of service and what they specialise in.
Confirm qualifications - it’s not a legal requirement for accountants to hold qualifications, however, you should ensure that yours is qualified through a recognised UK body such as ICAEW, ICAS, CIMA or ACCA. Some accountants are also chartered, which means they have an internationally recognised level of professional standing. Make sure you chose an account whose level of qualification you are comfortable with.
Discuss how you will work together - Depending on your own lifestyle and ways of working, you may have preferences on how you and your accountant communicate. From face to face appointments, to calls, to weekly updates to monthly, how you wish to receive the service is completely your decision and a good account will accommodate your needs. It’s important to discuss such practicalities early on, to ensure a good fit, and remember, a good accountant is always pro-active!
Understand their core skill set - Accounting is a complex and broad discipline and it’s common for accounts to specialise in just a few key areas. Make sure the accounts and firms you are considering have vast experience in the areas in which you are looking for help. If your needs are broader, a firm with a more varied team might be more suitable than a freelancer who specialises in just one area, for example.
Ask questions, as many as you can! Choosing an accountant to work with is a big decision, so ensure that you ask any questions you have, no matter how silly or ‘obvious’ they may be. A good accountant will take the time to explain things in a way that helps you understand, and often in their responses you will learn about their level of experience and expertise.
If you are looking for an accountant, have a look at accountancy body websites that list licensed members such as