Picking an accountant – A contractor’s checklist

When you hire a good accountant, you will certainly enjoy peace of mind. Your tax affairs will be handled in a proper and professional way. With the complications of UK tax system, you will be prone to mistakes without taking professional help from an accountant.

If you have an accountant, your accounts will be prepared professionally, which certainly means that you will be enjoying additional security. You will not have any problems when you have to go for a joint venture or you simply need to borrow money for the company. Some lenders even make it necessary for a company to have accounts prepared by a professional before you can borrow money from them.

With a good accountant, you will be able to communicate with HMRC in a professional manner. When HMRC initiates an investigation, you will be crippled without professional help by your side. Hiring an accountant will provide this necessary professional help.

How to pick an accountant

With so many accountants out there, you have to be careful when picking an accountant for your business. Since the term accountant is not protected like ‘doctor’ or ‘solicitor’, anyone can call itself an accountant. Notice that the bookies often call themselves ‘turf’ accountants. Just make sure that you are hiring a qualified accountant such as ‘chartered accountant’.

How to know if you are picking a good accountant

A good accountant will have the following traits/professional skills

  • A good accountant has to be good at communication. Since you are doing business in the UK, you have to make sure that your accountant speaks and understands plain English. If you cannot understand half the talk with your accountant, you are risking everything.
  • Always hire an accountant who will charge a fixed fee for its services instead of charging hourly fee. With hourly fee, you may get surprise bills from your accountant. Do not forget to ask about the additional fee for things like training you to use accounting software.
  • Accountants love using Sage 50 for bookkeeping. Although it is an excellent software program for business, it does not have to be used for small business. You just need simple accounting solution in that case. Make sure you are talking to your accountant about this before hiring him or her.
  • Look for an accountant who knows your industry. An accountant with experience in your sector will give you advantage over accountants learning about your sector while working with you. You will require someone who knows your business and has some experience working in the similar sector of industry.
  • Look for accountants who are not stuck in the past. The world is moving forward fast and your accountant should be keeping up with that. An accountant without a website is not a good choice in this fast-moving online world.
  • An accountant with good contacts will give you many benefits. For instance, you can get a recommendation for a solicitor or a bank manager from your accountant. This way, you will not be asking the accountant to help you with advice about investments and pensions, but you will be taking its opinion about the person to hire for these matters.
  • When you are hiring an accountant, you will have to have him as your agent with HMRC. Look for an accountant who is happy to take on this role.