Choosing Your Accountant

  1. Speak to your prospective accountant on the phone first and then, if you are still happy, set up an initial meeting – which should be free of charge.
  2. Ensure that they are professionally qualified and are current members of a professional body (Chartered Accountant (ICAEW/ICAS/ICAI), Chartered Management Accountant (CIMA), Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) for a fully qualified accountant.  Or AAT or CAT for an accounting technician).
  3. Get some personal recommendations.  However, do make sure that you trust the judgement of the person making the recommendation and they have an understanding of your business requirements.
  4. Always make sure for yourself that the accountant offers the service that you require.
  5. Conversely, accountants offer many services (from tax to company secretarial services), check that you require what they offer.  There is no point in paying for something you don’t want.
  6. Ask you accountant about their experience.
  7. Try and find out how accessible your accountant is.  How quickly do they respond to telephone and email messages?  Is it easy to speak to them directly?  If you are tied up with your own business during office hours, ask your accountant if they offer an out of hours service.
  8. Find  out about their fee structure: whether they will offer a fixed fee and/or an hourly rate.  If it is an hourly rate, get an estimate of the time required to complete the work.
  9. Check if you are going to be charged for speaking to your accountant on the phone and for any letters they might send to you.
  10. If approaching a firm of accountants, find out who will actually carry out the work.  On many occasions, it will be an accounting technician or clerk who carries out much of the work rather than the partner.  Make sure that you are billed accordingly.
  11. Most importantly, make sure that you get on with your accountant.  You need to be able to talk comfortably with them.  If a junior will be carrying out work, make sure you speak to them, too.
  12. Finally, if you are not getting on with your accountant, for whatever reason, do not be afraid to make a change.

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