It’s surprising how many people, even business owners, haven’t got a clue what us accountants do. Sure, most know we work out how much tax you have to pay, and like a good fiddle with a spreadsheet, but what should a good accountant be doing for you?
Let’s start with the basics. Any half decent accountant should be taking care of your annual accounts and tax returns for you, in plenty of time before the deadline, and tell you how much tax to pay, when & where, and the amount of tax you pay should be the least amount legally possible.
They should give you basic advice when you start like what structure would be best for you (sole trader or Limited Company), adding your spouse or partner to the business to save tax, or any relevant tax schemes that could be of benefit.
Finally, they should absolutely be in your corner should HMRC come back and ask any questions – without charging you extra or rip-off ‘insurance’ to do so.
Accountants deal with businesses all day long. They know a thing or 2. They shouldn’t be charging you for recommendations to other businesses that might be able to help you, or for giving their thoughts on what you should do next, or how to approach a problem you’re facing.
And, they certainly shouldn’t be presenting you with a bill afterwards just for a damn chat.
This shouldn’t just be restricted to tax advice either, but all sorts of things small business owners need some help on, like HR, legal, IT and much more.
Our world moves fast, and there is now so much technology out there that can help you run your business much more smoothly, achieve certain things faster, and for a lot cheaper than it used to be.
Your accountant should be the one telling you what these bits of tech are, how they can save you time and money, and how you use them. Better yet, they should be providing all their clients with free basic tech, included within their service, and offer free training to go with it.
Accountants are amongst some of the more difficult to price services out there. That’s because they’ve been doing it wrong for so long!
A good accountant should never be charging by time (hey, who said it was OK to slap a price on their head), by transactions, or some other convoluted way of charging like your turnover level.
Prices should be clear, so easy to understand a 7 year old could get it, and include everything you need, preferably as a nice easy monthly amount that doesn’t change every 5 minutes.
It seems silly writing this, but you’ll be amazed how many clients leave their accountant and come to us because they haven’t had a response from their accountant for 3 months.
It’s not difficult. Response times should be within 24 hours (1 working day) to at least acknowledge they’ve got the message.
A good accountant also won’t be pompous and try and intimidate you with big words like ‘fiscal performance’ or ‘net realisable value’. Small business owners have enough on their plate, without being bamboozled with a second language.
Finally, the way they communicate should align with how you like to operate. If they are intent on asking you for your fax number (hello 1994!), or sending you letters in the post, get an accountant who’s with the times and knows what email, What’s App or Social Media is.
You should know, personally, who your accountant is. As in, ‘my accountant is Jeff, he’s a great bloke’. Not the firm, the person. If you don’t have a decent relationship with your accountant, who keeps getting passed to more junior accountants in the firm, you won’t be getting the best advice.
2020 has been a funny old year. What a great accountant has done, is be there for their clients, with advice, support and, most important, not rubbing their hands together, charging cash-strapped businesses for every claim or bit of help with funding applications during a national shit storm (that’s latin for ‘pandemic’).
We do all this, and more, for every client, and they love us for it. If you’re ready to love us too, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org