Important Questions to ask your accountant
Over the years we have come across many good accountants but also some shocking work from others. So how can you as a customer or client protect yourself from bad service and advice? Bad advice, incorrect accounts or tax returns could end up costing you an unexpected tax bill and investigation.
Make sure you ask and are satisfied with the answers to these questions:
1. What are your qualifications?
Qualifications are a good indication that your accountant has been properly trained. Unfortunately the word 'accountant' is not a protected word such as 'solicitor'. Therefore anyone, with no training or back ground in accounts or tax, can set themselves up as an accountant and trade as such.
We must add though that qualification is not everything as we have seen some excellent work from those who are not qualified and some bad work from those that are, but it's a start. Check what logo's are being displayed and check them out with the professional body to ensure they are a member.
2. Do you hold a practicing certificate?
Being a member of one of the main accounting bodies means you have to be approved to run an accountancy business. This means you have to satisfy the professional body that you are competent and also that each year you have undertaken additional training to keep your knowledge up to date. It is also a check to ensure you have PI insurance
Being member of a professional organisation means that should you have a complaint against the service or advice you receive they will investigate it for you and can sanction, fine and expel its members.
3. Can I see your PI cover?
PI (Professional Indemnity) insurance is very important for you as client or customer. It protects you should you be given wrong advice and suffer a financial loss.
4. What is your experience?
Taking on an accountant should be viewed in some ways the same as taking on a senior member of staff or business partner. Would you take on someone without asking for their experience? Ask for recommendations.
5. What is your fee charging structure?
An engagement letter is standard and good practice and you should receive one detailing each parties responsibilities. Where possible always agree a fixed fee in advance.
These are 5 simple questions that will go a long way in ensuring you engage a good accountant.
How easy is it to change accountants?
It involves just one letter from you and we take care of everything else . Your current accountant will not usually be allowed to charge you for providing the normal handover information.