14 Questions you Should ask Your Accountant Part 1

12 02 2010

Trying to compare anything can be difficult, but when it comes to your personal finances, you need to make sure that you have made the right choice.

An Accountant can save you a lot of time and money, which you may needlessly spend on the Taxman. But, more than that, a good Accountant can oblige you, for your own benefit, to face up to issues which you may otherwise have been tempted to ignore. That’s another reason to find one you like.

Whatever you do, ensure that you interview several. You can start by asking family, friends or colleagues if they know of a good Accountant. Failing this, you will also find lots of ads on the Internet, in Yellow Pages, or in your local newspaper. Never forget though; a personal recommendation from someone you trust carries a lot more weight than an ad from someone you’ve never heard of.

It is vital that your Accountant understands all of your goals; short, medium and long-term, so outline any ideas or dreams you have for the future. For example, if you are planning to buy new office premises, or set up a new company in the near future, make sure you say so. The reason for this is that your Accountant may be able to save you a lot of money. They may also have good advice to offer based on previous experiences of other clients.

So; let’s get to the point of this post; I want to help you choose your Accountant, and to do that, I am going to give you 10 questions that you should ask before you hire.

 

Question 1 What are your professional qualifications?

 

Astonishingly, anyone can call themselves an Accountant. Accountancy is not like being a Doctor; to call yourself an Accountant, you do not have to have any qualifications. Only consider an Accountant with a recognised professional qualification, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or a Chartered Tax Adviser. At the very least, this gives you some protection or an avenue for complaints if needed.

Question 2 Can I speak to a couple of your Clients about you?

 

Ask the Accountant if you can speak to someone in a similar position to yourself. When you speak to this Client, you want to know things like how reliable, prompt and proactive your potential Accountant has been; whether they explain things clearly, seem good value for money, and have produced any good ideas. Keep in mind though; you are only likely to get the names of friendly Clients!

Question 3 Who will be my point of contact?

 

Make sure you meet the person who will be dealing with your work. It is important to ensure that you can establish a good working relationship, as you will be in contact with them regularly. If more than one person will be involved with you, ask to meet the others,

 

 

Question 4 Can I visit your office?

 

This should help you judge the quality, nature and scope of the Accountant’s practice. Be wary of an Accountant working from serviced offices or their offices are very run-down. Then again, you should enquire closely about the fees of someone with conspicuously lavish premises!

Question 5 How long have you been in business?

 

Unless your affairs are very simple, you need someone with experience. Don’t just take their word for it; make sure you ask for evidence.

Question 6 How many partners are there in your practice? And other employees?

 

If you employ a one-man band, there will obviously be problems when illness occurs or they take holiday at a time when you need help. Also, there could be problems at the busiest times of the year, like January, when many Self Assessment returns have to be submitted. Check if there are other people around to help. Solo operators may also lack easy access to expertise in specialist areas, such as VAT, PAYE, Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax planning, if that’s what you need.

 

Question 7 Can I see a portfolio of your work for Clients?

 

An Accountant can not give you detailed information on other Clients for confidentiality reasons. If you ask in advance, however, it’s not difficult for them to prepare a case study, but black out the confidential details as well. You should be looking for someone who is regularly dealing with other Clients that are in the same position as yourself. This is important because you want to make sure that they are accustomed and experienced in dealing with someone like yourself. For instance, there is a big difference in the sort of work the Accountant needs to do for an actor, with fluctuating income, and an employee, with a steady, constant income, or a retiree who is living off their pension and investments. Finding an Accountant who already works with Clients in a similar position will save you a lot of explanation and should stop your Accountant having to learn at your expense.

Why not check out the Best Accountants in Sussex?Tax Accountant    Make sure you’re aware of the new National Minimum Wage Rates for 2011 – they come into effect in October 2011.

 

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11 responses

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