1. Decide whether you want an accountant or a bookkeeper
A qualified accountant has extensive training and can offer you a range of services including preparation of your accounts and tax, financial and business advice to help your business to grow, and comprehensive tax planning strategies. A bookkeeper will keep your business books and records in good order and may offer some simple tax advice. Perhaps you need both.
2. Check their qualifications
Choose an accountant who is a member of either the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). You can ask them, or you can check membership by searching the register of members online.
ACCA - http://www.accaglobal.com/za/en/member/find-an-accountant/directory-of-member.html
ICAEW - http://membersearch.icaew.com/
If the accountant is a member of either of these bodies then you can be sure that they:
· have the appropriate insurances in place
· have arrangements in place to look after their clients should the accountant become incapacitated
· keep up with continuing professional development which means being up to date
But most importantly, clients have recourse should anything go wrong as the accountant can be ‘struck off’. If the accountant is not regulated then you cannot assume you are covered, because you may well not be.
3. Give you choice
It should not be a one size fits all arrangement. The accountant should know and understand your business and personal goals and provide appropriate services to enable you to achieve them. Some people are more ambitious than others and the service should be tailored to each circumstance.
4. Must understand the latest software
The advent of cloud computing has given rise to many cloud accounting packages, and more and more apps are being released to help business owners run their businesses. Today’s accountants should be aware of what is available, and can advise clients on the best tools to help them run their businesses and achieve their goals.
Every accountant knows their worth. If the price is low, the low price does not come from any obvious efficiency, then ask yourself why this is. Even a start-up business should budget for a good accountant because often they lose far more in their first years than they save by using a cheap accountant.