What to look for when choosing an accountant (part 1/2)

The right accountant can be more like a business partner than some distant seasonal resource. A good one can offer so much more than just preparing your tax return and keeping spreadsheets of your income and expenses.

But what can an accountant do for you? What do you want from them? And how do you go about finding ‘the one’?

Back in the day

Historically, accountancy – one of the ‘professional services’ – was seen as complicated, formal, probably boring. And the stereotype did accountants themselves no harm: it gave them the control and kept their clients at arms’ length. The sense that accountancy was a dark art – one in which mere mortals shouldn’t meddle – grew, enabling accountants to charge royally for doing rather little.

When choosing an accountant you went for the drabbest tie, the most chancellor-presenting-budget-esque briefcase, and the unfriendliest demeanour available.

You just did.

And the outcome of your ‘partnership’? Well it probably included:

  • Not being alerted to opportunities. ‘Tax breaks? What tax breaks?’
  • Not being alerted to danger. ‘It seemed like a good deal.’
  • No idea of the real state of your business’s finances. ‘Nobody’s sent the boys round, so we must be doing alright.’
  • Bankruptcy. ‘But my money’s my money, isn’t it?’

Thankfully, accountancy’s come a long way.

How an accountant can help you

If you want an accountant to keep a record of your incomings and outgoings and sort out the necessary submissions, your choice is vast. But good accountants can – and should – use their expertise and their knowledge of the market and the law to ensure businesses survive and to help them prosper. Put simply, to minimise their expenses and maximise their profits.

Companies – and particularly start-ups and small businesses – need the right advice at the right time. And this advice can relate to benefits from restructuring, tax savings available to companies like yours, or financial survival when you’re planning on starting a family or going travelling.

In part 2, we fantastise about our dream accountant, and hunt them down…

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