Regardless of the size of your business, finding an accountant is a crucial step in managing your finances. Due to cost factors, most start-ups hold back from hiring an accountant and, in most cases, choose to handle the financial aspect of their businesses on their own. While saving on cost as a start-up is not such a bad idea, getting a professional to manage your finances and give you expert accounting advice goes a long way in keeping track of the progress of your business.
Whether it is a traditional physical accountant, or a digital or hybrid professional, hiring an accountant for your business comes with various benefits. They will not only handle the bookkeeping tasks from a professional perspective, but they are also be obligated to offer necessary financial advice for the growth of your business.
Additionally, an accountant will help keep you on the right side of the law, mainly through meeting any tax compliance obligations. The fact that they handle the most critical aspect of your business is part of the reason why you need to find an experienced and certified accountant. So, what are the factors you should consider when finding the right accountant for your business? This post will talk about finding the right accountant, including the benefits of having the right accountant and the considerations to put in mind when hiring one.
What are the benefits of hiring an Accountant?
Getting the right accountant has several benefits for your business. They include the following;
Whether you are expanding your business, selling it or even diversifying your production portfolio, there will be financial implications. Here, an accountant helps ensure that you comply with the state and employment law and any revenue obligations. They guide you in formulating your business plan and advice you on the financial implications for various business decisions. Accountants care about both the present and the future wellbeing of your business and always work to achieve sustainable future growth.
As your business grows, the asset capacity also increases. Managing these increased assets becomes challenging if you choose to take up the task on your own. This is where the services of an accountant come in. Accountants undergo thorough training on managing assets to ensure that they are utilised to their maximum capacity. Here, the accountant is responsible for preparing balance sheets, profit, and loss statements, among other financial reports related to assets. The right accountant views the resources of your business differently from the other employees. They seek to ensure the effective and efficient utilisation of resources to reduce expenditure and maximise returns.
It is a requirement by law that businesses should comply with the laid down tax obligations. As a business owner, you may not be conversant with all the necessary tax laws governing your business and this calls for help from an accountant. Experienced accountants are familiar with tax procedures, and they handle your tax issues promptly, keeping them updated per the law.
Handling complex financial systems
Due to the recent technological changes, financial systems are changing too. New and innovative software is coming up to help in the handling of complex accounting procedures. There is a huge difference between hiring a bookkeeper and an accountant. While a bookkeeper mainly concentrates on the bookkeeping aspects, the accountant will always be on the lookout for the latest software updates for complex accounting tasks. The accountant focuses on the preparation of complex financial statements and helps you to interpret them. They also guide you in making financial decisions based on the reports.
Other benefits of getting the right accountant for your business are an increase in savings and the creation of business opportunities.
Having seen the benefits that hiring the right accountant brings to your business, you are now more than convinced to look out for one. The problem lies in finding an accountant from the hundreds of them available in the market. It is advisable to make your selection based on skills.
Where to find an Accountant?
Most reputable accountants can be found in a number of different online websites or directories. The following are the most typical places where business owners can find an accountant.
Network or referrals
You can ask people in your personal or professional network for accountants who they would recommend.
Professional or accrediting organizations
Accredited accountants belong to organizations such the the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) who represent many Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the United States. Similarly, the UK, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) are two common accrediting accountancy institutions.
Accountants can also be found on social media sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter. You can search by employer or speciality skill sets on these platforms which help you narrow your search. You can also see if you share an common connections with accountants when finding an accountant through social media websites. Social media websites can also give you insight into an accountant’s personality which will help you in deciding on which one to choose.
Last but not least, search engines serve as the most common way for business owners to find accountants. You can narrow your search by a variety of parameters and pick those with the most relevant experience, or those that are closest to you by location.
What skills should an Accountant possess?
Here are a few skills that an accountant should possess.
Most of the accounting work revolves around analysing financial statements. A good accountant should have profound analytical skills. The accountant must be able to sift through financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and consistent. An experienced accountant should be able to tell whether or not a financial report is correct by just looking at it.
Other than analysing complex financial statements, the accountant should also be in a position to communicate them efficiently. Communication here is directed to the business owners, clients, and other stakeholders, most of whom lack complex financial reports. The accountant should be able to transform the financial charts, graphs, diagrams and data into a language that an average person can understand. Accountants should possess good communication and listening skills.
Time Management Skills
Accountants work on different projects at the same time. They mostly work under strict deadlines. Therefore a good accountant should be able to multitask and meet deadlines while still delivering quality reports. Time management is necessary, especially with scenarios where the deadlines are inflexible, such as filing taxes. This is a trait that separates a mere accountant from a top tier accountant.
An accountant must be a critical thinker. Since most of the accounting procedures involve playing with numbers, errors, and discrepancies are likely to occur. If overlooked or not detected early enough, the errors can adversely interfere with the financial reports of a business. Therefore, the accountant should critically analyse all situations putting into consideration all the potential risks. An accountant who thinks critically, putting the business’s future in mind, is considered an asset to the company. Also, watch out for writing skills, adaptability and spreadsheet proficiency.
Factors to consider when choosing an accountant
Apart from the accounting skills, they are other factors to consider when hiring an accountant. They are as outlined below;
Understand the needs of your Business
Before getting down to hiring an accountant, you should first understand the needs of your business. This understanding forms the basis of your selection criterion when finding an accountant. You should tell whether your business needs a bookkeeper or a professional accountant. Besides, you should look into your budget to understand the amount you are willing to part with for the accounting services.
The Accountant’s Rates
Different accountants and accounting firms charge differently for their services. Some accountants charge a monthly fee for bookkeeping services and an additional tax obligation fee for both business and personal taxes. The charges differ depending on the size of the business, the services offered, and the accountant’s expertise. Depending on your cash flow, you can negotiate on the payment amount as well as the remittance plan.
Understanding your business’s needs plays a significant role in the computation of the accountant’s rates. If you have a bookkeeper in your company, you may hire a professional account as an advisor or consultant. It is advisable to analyse your budget before settling for a specific accountant. Settle for one whose accountant’s fee is in line with your budget.
Rapport with the Accountant
An accountant is seen as a business partner. A professional accountant is someone willing to walk with you along your business path, offering advice where necessary. The way you communicate and get along with an accountant tells how far you can go together. You should have a mutual relationship putting the interests of the business at the forefront.
If you feel that your communication with the accountant is not as smooth as it should, then they are not a perfect fit for you. There should be open and honest communication between you and your accountant. Additionally, you should get along well as mutual friends. Go for an account whom you can talk to concerning any issue affecting your business. Feel free to take your time and look for the perfect fit.
Reputation of the Accountant
What others say about an accountant matters a lot. It is important to look for reviews from other business owners who have worked with a specific accountant. However, always remember that whatever worked for a particular business may not work the same for you. It is, therefore, important to seek advice from people in a similar line of business. Do not base your choice on one review, seek for two or more peer reviews to avoid cases of bias.
Getting reviews and referrals saves you the time and money spent in conducting extensive interviews looking for a perfect fit. When it comes to reputation, look for things such as cost, accuracy and speed, as well as communication efficiency.
Different countries or states have different professional bodies that govern their accountants. The bodies look into the accountants’ qualifications and strive to maintain high levels of professionalism in the field. In most regions, accountants are also referred to as Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Accountants. After completing a certain level of the study, these titles are given to accountants, for example, a degree or an accounting competence program. They are considered professionals in the industry.
Given the extensive knowledge and experience that certified accountants possess, they will be valuable assets to your business. Again here, the needs of your business determine whether or not you need a certified accountant. Regular bookkeeping procedures and basic tax obligations may not require a certified accountant. However, for complex business decisions, and audits, you may need a certified one. Note that the rates of a certified accountant are high compared to those of uncertified ones.
Relevant Accountancy Experience
In addition to certification, you should look for an accountant with expertise in your line of business. The financial needs of businesses vary from one field of specialisation to the other. Therefore, it is vital to limit your search to accountants with experience in your line of business. Going for an accountant who is conversant with the activities revolving around your business makes it easy for them to blend well in your company.
The accountant will be in a position to offer advice based on ideas borrowed from the other company. This may go a long way in helping your business grow and succeed. Also, look for someone who has experience in handling a bigger company so that they can help transition your business as it continues to grow.
Due to rapid technological advancements, the accounting field has also witnessed software updates. The software has become robust with tons of automation features that are time-saving. Therefore, accountants need to be familiar with these changes to fit in the dynamically changing accounting sector.
Different accountants prefer using particular accounting software over others. Despite the varying preferences, it is advisable to go for an accountant who uses similar software as you. Ensure that the individual is prowess when it comes to technology. Going for a tech-savvy accountant means that they will always be on the lookout for software updates. The accountant will embrace new technology. This means that your business will be in a position to keep up with upcoming trends in the market.
An accountant should not only focus on balancing the numbers. A good account should look deeper into the needs of your business. Go for a proactive individual who will be willing to look at the future of your business. They should offer advice on the areas of your business that you can change, for example, to offset high expenditures or taxes. A proactive accountant adds more value to your business by looking at it from an investor’s perspective. They also work to establish networks with other businesses, which creates opportunities for your company.
Listen to your own judgement
You may find an accountant who meets all of the above qualifications. They may be certified, have the relevant experience, be tech-savvy, have a good reputation, but the decision to hire an accountant rests on your hands. It would help if you learned to listen to what your gut says.
Here, you are putting your business on the line. Therefore it is necessary to consider your intuition. If you feel that you can trust that particular individual to work with you in the foreseeable future, go ahead and hire them. However, if you do not fully trust them, walk away and find another fit. Always rely on your own judgement.
The relationship between an accountant and a business is more than just a simple employee relationship. It is more intimate, since accountants are involved in tracking the financial progress of a business. Therefore, you should not take the accountant hiring process lightly. You need to get someone who you can trust with your business’s most crucial information and one who will be there when you need them.
By implementing the tips mentioned above, you will go a long way in safeguarding the needs of your business. All the best in finding the right accountant for your business.