14 Questions you should ask your Accountant Part 2

15 02 2010

Hopefully you all enjoyed Part 1, but for those who haven’t read it yet, Part 1 of 14 Questions you should ask your Accountant

So; let’s carry on!

Question 8 →  Do you have specialist knowledge of areas which are important to me, or do you have in-house specialists?

If you have complex problems, ensure that there is someone in the company who specialises in dealing with them. It’s no good employing an Accountant to help you simplify your financial matters if they don’t know what to do about them either!

Question 9 → What is your fee structure?

Accountancy can be split into two different types of work. The first is compliance; work like filling out a tax return, which can usually be done by someone quite junior. The second is giving more sophisticated advice, which can only come from an experienced partner. If you want the latter, you shouldn’t have to pay them high rates for merely filling out a tax return for you, which a junior could do. Therefore, check that the work is handled, from your point of view, cost effectively.

You want your costs to be as controlled as possible, so find out if a fixed fee is available for compliance work, as the more sophisticated advice will more likely be charged by the hour.

Question 10 →  How far does your advice extend when it comes to investment?

By law, an Accountant can only give you a certain amount of investment advice unless they are registered with the FSA(Financial Services Authority) as an IFA (Independent Financial Adviser). However, your Accountant should either have an IFA in-house, or be able to recommend one.

Question 11 → How pro-active are you?

Ask for some examples of how your prospective accountant has made pro-active suggestions to Clients, beyond the routine requirements of what was asked for. You want an Accountant who’s going to walk that extra mile, not sit and wait for a bus.

Question 12 →  How accessible are you?

Ask how long it usually takes for your Accountant to respond to emails, telephone messages, a letter, etc. If you need urgent help suddenly, having your Accountant available on a mobile or via email can be essential. Ask if this is available – but find out if you will be charged for having a short conversation or reading an email.

Question 13 →  I am thinking of starting a business, can you help me?

A good Accountant should be like a business adviser; analysing problems and offering solutions, helping with advice on financial management, cashflow forecasting, etc. They should always be on the look-out for new ideas and innovations that can grow your business.

Question 14 →  How many Clients do you have?

While they may not tell you the exact number, it is important to have a rough knowledge. The reason being for this is that if you ever urgently need help, or your tax return is going to be late, in a big company, your work could be near the bottom of the pile. In a smaller company, however, there will be less work, and therefore should be completed quicker.

I hope you found this two-part post useful, if you would like to add a question, leave a comment, and I’ll add it in.

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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