Choosing an Accountant

Selecting the right accountant for your small business

We've said that business is about the relationships that you build.

One of the most important relationships that you build, outside of those with your customers, is the one that you have with your accountant. And selecting the right accountant is worthy of careful thought.

A good accountant will not only help to minimise your tax, but might be able to offer business advice that maximises your income too. 

Perhaps a more fundamental and core issue is whether you really need an accountant, as opposed to an experienced book-keeper who can capably use your accounting package and simply maintain your records. Obviously a book-keepers rates will be less than those of an accountant's.

Ten questions to help you decide ....

If you do decide that you desire the services of an accountant, then ten important questions that should be considered when selecting or evaluating an accountant for your business are:
  1. Is the accountant a fully qualified member of a recognised professional accounting organisation?
  2. What is the size of the firm?  How important is this factor to you - on the one hand larger firms have a broader pool of specialist expertise to call upon, and yet often on the other hand you often find in a small firm that relationships are more valued
  3. Who exactly will be handling the accounting needs of your business and what is their experience?
  4. How familiar are they with your particular industry?
  5. Is the accountant able to provide business advice and assist in other aspects of financial management of your business? 
  6. Does the firm provide advice on investments, superannuation and assistance with business or personal financing?
  7. Within what period of time will the accountant typically return calls?  A lack of accessibility to their accountant is a complaint from many small business owners
  8. What tends to be their turn-around time for completing tax returns, BAS or other reports?
  9. Is the accountant familiar with the accounting software that your business actually operates?
  10. What is the accountant's hourly rate and how will fees be charged? For example, will you be charged for every phone call or for any travelling time?
Speak with other business owners in your network of contacts and ask them what they think of the accountant they are using - recommendations from other business people whom you trust and respect is obviously going to carry a lot of weight.

By doing your research and getting answers to these questions, you will have the assurance you need that you will be selecting the right accountant for your small business.

Here's a link that can help you locate a local registered accountant -  the Institute of Public Accountants & BAS Practitioners

Another article that might be of interest - How to increase profits in your small business