How to find the right accountant for your needs
No two accountants are the same, which means you’re likely to find one in your area perfectly suited to your needs. First, consider the following five points before setting out to find the right accountant for you.
If you’re an architect, you don’t leave building plans up to the intern in your office, do you? Likewise, if you’re a lawyer, a big case isn’t going to be fronted by a law clerk.
When it comes to looking after the financial side of business though, many professional services workers don’t give their accounting work to someone who is properly qualified and experienced.
Getting your taxes in order, lodging the correct paperwork with the tax office, and otherwise staying on top of accounting details is a vital component of being self-employed, especially at this time of year when EOFY is on the horizon.
But there is a big difference between accountants, so you must find someone who’s equipped to handle your work effectively.
If you’re in need of a new accountant, or have to find one for the first time, read on for some tips you can follow to locate the right person. You can then begin your search with MYOB’s online partner search directory.
1. Understand your needs
Get clear on what your needs are before you start looking for an accountant, so you can narrow down options.
Understand what services you need someone to handle for you, and if there is a particular level of expertise or experience that will be required.
If you’re like most people, you’ll be keen to find an accountant who can work with your accounting software, too.
2. Check qualifications
Obviously you must check the qualifications of everyone you consider, too.
Depending on your needs, you might be searching for a Chartered Accountant or a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA), or it may not matter to you which body the accountant is certified by.
It’s also possible to use an accountant who isn’t certified, chartered or registered, but this isn’t recommended in a lot of cases.
While people can do tax preparation, bookkeeping and other general financial-management related tasks for you without being qualified to the top levels, it pays to have someone who has gone through more training to advise you.
3. Find a specialist
You can hire a general accountant who handles a variety of jobs, or you might decide to choose a specialist for one or more areas.
There are tax accountants who focus on the preparation of individual or company tax returns, and who can help you to structure your business in the most tax-effective way.
Management accountants help with analysing business reports and results, and assist managers to get budgets and forecasts in order for more informed decision making.
Financial accountants handle the management of financial records and provide relevant reports; while auditing accountants specialise in checking financial reports and collecting evidence to support report numbers.
4. Consider location
Years ago, everyone pretty much just chose an accountant that worked in their local area. Today, thanks to technology, things have changed and it’s possible to hire an accountant from anywhere around the world.
If you need to find a specialist but there isn’t one in your city, it’s really helpful to be able to go elsewhere to find the right person.
When going down this route, make sure the accountant you’re interested in has experience working with clients remotely.
Ask them about how they will communicate and how often.
If you prefer face-to-face meetings with your accountant, opt for someone who is an easy drive away.
Plus, if you’re a lawyer with a complex business structure, for instance, it might be helpful to use the services of a local accountant who can come to your office to work with your staff and yourself at times.
5. See what other clients have to say
No matter how wonderful an accountant seems on paper, don’t hire someone without having first done research into what their previous or current clients say about them.
Social media is a boon for this kind of information. Search for reviews and testimonials on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn about the accountants on your shortlist.
There are also other websites to check out, such as accountant-related forums or industry sites.
Alternatively, where possible, contact some clients directly to ask them what they think of the accountant and if they still use them. If not, ask why they went in a different direction.