February is a great month to review your accountants and decide whether they have your best interests at heart. You have just gone through the self-assessment process so you can ask yourself some basic questions:
- did you understand everything they explained to you
- was the invoice what you expected/were told to expect
- did you find them approachable
- did they respond to communications quickly/efficiently
- do you get the feeling they are making every decision based on what is best for you and your business
If you answered yes to most of them then you probably have an accountant you ought to hold on to. There are plenty of good quality accountants out there so if you answered no to more of the above it may be time to spread your wings and see who else would make a better fit for you and your business. There are plenty of reasons people fear change when it comes to accounting. Let’s take a look at those reasons and try and demystify what essentially is a required service in an industry that is highly competitive. It’s up to accountancy practices to woo and wow you – not the other way around!
Reason 1: You have had the same accountants forever
This is usually a quick response that involves three main parts to it. What they are really telling you is that they are local and convenient, they are happy with the service because they have no comparison, and they trust their accountants to be doing what is best. These are all great reasons and loyalty is a fine quality provided you are getting the best service available. Like you would do with car insurance and heating bills it makes sense to shop around sometimes and make sure you are not simply remaining blinkered. We have seen clients trust accountants that have been woefully neglecting their responsibilities and left them in a real state. We have also seen clients content with ridiculous accounting fees for simply tasks. Loyalty is to be commended provided it is not costing you too much. Look around and make sure what you are content with is worthy of being content over.
Reason 2: Changing accountants is a massive upheaval
It often feels like that for many but in reality it is extremely simple. Once you have visited your new accountants and signed up with them they will contact your old accountants on your behalf and request all the information they need. It should be a seamless process and fluid transition from one accountants to another. They are obliged by law to co-operate so even if you leave on bad terms there is only a short amount of time they have to be awkward in before they are forced to comply. If you had a good bond with them and are worried about the emotional attachment then write to them, or go and talk to them to explain your reasons for leaving. This gives them the opportunity to lure you back and prevents bad feeling from developing.
Reason 3: Accountants are all the same
This is a massive misconception and ABC Accounting Services alone smash it into smithereens but we are also aware of plenty of other accountancy firms that do the same! Accountancy practices are just as varied as the people that work in them. They can be formal and professional, professional and approachable, approachable and friendly, quirky and friendly, a little crazy, forward thinking and fun! When you go for a free consultation with an accountancy firm you should get a sense of their character and their company ethos then. If you don’t then try another. You should be able to find an accountancy practice that shares your objectives and connects with you and your business. So do your research, go and talk to a few and see who makes sense as a natural extension to your business.
Reason 4: Accountants are there to liaise with HMRC and that’s it
If that is all your accountant does then you are missing out on a valuable chunk of the services they offer. They are there to support you, give you up-to-date financial advice, help shape your business the way you want it and assist you in planning for the future. A good accountant will listen to you and give you guidance. A great accountant will listen to you, help you fight when times are hard, discuss risks and challenges that lie ahead and be there for you exactly when you need them. There is something very flexible, immediate and responsive about great accounting that you will not get from a practice that just goes through the yearly motions. If you are not sure what type of accountant you have ask them if you can discuss your KPIs (Key performance indicators). They should walk you through the following:
- how far ‘off’ are you from your forecast cash position? What’s the main reason for it?
- any discrepancies need to be researched and understood so you can take necessary action to bring the figures back into line.
- how well you are able to meet your short-term financial obligations – a key figure for almost all businesses in the current climate is their liquidity
- how much gross profit you are making on average, per sale?
- if you deal with consumers, say in a mail-order business, you’ll want to know how many complaints you have each day, and the broad reasons for them, so you can spot any trends and make plans to deal with them.
These figures can all be monitored and spending time with your accountant should shed light on aspects of your business you may overlook from time to time with your manic schedule what it is.
Reason 5: You don’t need a relationship with your accountant
There are clients that happily email in their data or use a digital filing system like DropBox so contact is slim on the ground. This is still no excuse for a poor or nonexistent relationship. The rapport you have with an accountant is a valuable connection. They understand business in a way that your family and friends are unlikely to. They witness hundreds, if not thousands, of clients go through the same issues, stresses and challenges as you do. In terms of advice, guidance and support there is no better ally that your accountant. You should be able to pick up the phone to them and hear a reassuring voice or drop in for coffee and receive a motivational pep talk when you need it. That is what great accounting is all about. Great accounting is not about the numbers it is about the people that create them!
Is it time to change?
We have given you five good reasons to take a long hard look at what your accountant does for you and weigh up whether it is enough. Don’t move for moving sake or base a decision purely on cost because sometimes you get what you pay for. But, if a move makes sense for you then do not hesitate because your accountancy practice should be an extension of your business and if they are not working with you then you are missing out on valuable momentum.
If you would like a free consultation to find out more about the services we provide then contact Shell via email: email@example.com or ask for her by phone: 01427 613613.