Choosing the best accountant for your business takes more than a glowing referral or a dart thrown at that old copy of the Yellow Pages.
Here are 10 questions you should ask the next accountant you consider working with:
Who do you normally work with?
It’s a small question but an important one and will give you an idea on whether they are a right fit for your business – and if you’re the type of client they want.
Unfortunately, many accounting firms just want your business at all costs. Try to see past that and choose one who gets what you do – and why you do it.
Be sure that their experience matches the service you’re expecting.
Are you just looking for your tax return to be lodged on time?
Or do you want someone who will help you grow your business?
What do you specialise in?
You might have SMSF and plans to invest in property. Or you might be on the tail-end of your business journey and focused on issues around succession. Knowing what your accountant specializes in gives you an idea of the extra value they might add to your business goals.
How do you charge?
Do they charge per hour? Or based on the value they provide?
Some questions within this question include:
Do they price each section of work before they start, and give you the opportunity to agree to the scope and terms?
Can you pay them on a regular retainer or do they expect all up-front?
Do they charge for each email or phone call you have with them or is this all included?
By getting clear answers, you’ll avoid nasty surprise bills and the expectations will be clear.
How quickly will you return my emails/call?
Once you understand the pricing structure, you want to know if they’re there for you. So, if you’re looking for someone to be there offering active advice for your business, it’s important to know how quickly they may respond to your questions. Don’t become that nightmare client who expects late-night responses and after-hours consultations but it is fair to work out the expectation on when your questions might be answered – especially if thy are about important business decisions you need to make.
How long does it take you to do our work?
If your accountant takes too many months to deal with the most minor tax issue – it’s time to move on. By setting clear expectations, you’ll build a positive relationship.
What technology do you use?
It’s important to know how you can interact and share financial information with your accountant – and how they protect it.
How often will they talk to you each year?
Again, this is all about setting expectations and understanding what you receive in return for payment for their services.
Find out if their annual fees include a finite number of calls – or if you are free to pick up the phone any time you have a question.
Are they a Chartered Accountant, or part of an association?
The three main associations in Australia are:
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants
- CPA Australia
- Institute of Public Accountants Australia
All three are different and have different membership requirements. All three also have a set of standards to adhere to – and it’s a sign that your accountant is involved in their industry, is happy to be accountable and is also willing to learn and grow, as they involve themselves with other industry professionals.
Some people love the type of relationship where they can head out on the golf course – or to the winery – with their accountant once in a while. If this type of relationship is important to you, then you need to view your potential accountant through those eyes as well.
It’s important to remember that, if the relationship doesn’t work out for you, there is always the opportunity to move on. It’s all about feeling confident and secure – and knowing that you are receiving good advice that ensures your thorough compliance, tax-minimisation and business growth.
If you’ve got any questions about finding the best accountant for your business, speak to our team at TAS. We’d be happy to help. Call (03) 9728 1448.