How to get the Most from your Accountant: Part 1

The best accountants add value to your business, all for an affordable cost that you can control.

Growing businesses rapidly find they need the services of an accountant in order to help them manage the finances of their business. But which services do you actually need, how should you pay for them, and how do you make sure you’re getting good value for money?

Here’s the top 5 out of 10 tips for getting the most from your accountant while managing the cost of its service. These are important issues to address; used effectively, your accountant can make a huge contribution to your business’s growth.

1. Use Fixed Fees

Agree on a fixed fee for your accountant’s services, rather than paying by the hour. This will enable you to plan ahead for the cost of the work and to control costs. The fixed fee agreement should come with clear detail on what you’ll get in return for your money, but you’ll also have the option of commissioning additional work should it prove necessary.  

2. Be realistic about your budget

While it’s important to keep a tight rein on all costs, accountancy fees included, review your budget on a regular basis. Over time, the work you require from your accountant will change – you may need additional, more wide-ranging services, or less support as the business becomes large enough to support more in-house staff. Update budgets according to what your business needs.

3. Buy what you need

Most accountants offer a menu of services so think carefully about what you actually want. In particular, look at the support an accountant can give you as you try to grow your business – ongoing advice and feedback based on the financials your business is generating and the accountant’s experience and knowledge working with other firms. Equally, don’t pay for what you’re not getting.

4. Timing is crucial

The frequency of the work your accountant produces can make as much difference as the work itself. If your interactions are occasional you may be satisfying your compliance responsibilities, but you won’t be getting timely analysis of trading and business performance that you can put to good use.

5. Relationships matter

It’s your accountant’s responsibility to make an important contribution to your business’s growth, but if you don’t trust them, or feel comfortable talking frankly and openly with them, you won’t be able to take full advantage. An accountant should be a trusted business partner who is able to provide constructive support as you run your business. If that’s not an accurate description of your relationship, it’s time to ask why.