Deciding to use a personal accountant is the next big step in growing your business, but you need to make sure your financial information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. You’ll likely take to Google to find an accountant in your area, but before you choose a professional that looks ideal on the surface, be sure to dig a little deeper in the following areas.
Do They Have Proper Certification?
Make sure that your Accountant is properly qualified. Certifications vary depending on which country you are based in. See here for UK accountancy qualifications. In the USA, passing the CPA and getting the right accountant credentials isn’t easy – and rightfully so. While all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs, so it’s important to make sure your accountant is trained well enough to meet your demands as a business.
While all accountants will go through rigorous training to become who they are, they need to seek continuing education and professional development. Otherwise, they won’t continue to be certified.
Rules and regulations change, so there may be a time where a new accountant will be the best pick for your business because they’re guaranteed to be up-to-date. However, nothing beats experience if said accountant continuously learns and develops their skills.
Also, always ask if the accountant is a part of a team or working solo because that could determine their price and efficiency. A business that wants to grow rapidly should consider a medium-sized team rather than one single accountant.
How Big Will Your Business Grow?
A good accountant will want to understand your aims for your business. What are your aspirations? If you want to grow, perhaps attract investors and employ people then make sure that your accountant has experience in that area. If you want to remain as a solo business working from home, that is absolutely fine too. Perhaps you are winding down to retirement and your main aim is to build up a retirement pot. The main thing is that the accountant you chose asks the right questions, listens and advises you on the appropriate strategy.
It’s crucial that you receive all the support you need in this venture and that your accountant has an empathetic ear and has a connection to your business. They’re supposed to be your trusted advisors, so find a professional who treats your company as they would treat their own.
Do They Use Up-To-Date Technology?
Rapid advances in technology have made it easier for accountants to automate most of their processes. Accounting software like QuickBooks and FreeAgent can make tedious tasks take less time while reducing the possibility of error. Don’t overlook an accountant that uses technology to their advantage; it doesn’t make them lazy or unconfident in their abilities. If anything, these accountants want to complete menial tasks a breeze so they can focus on the big picture.
Plus, innovations like e-signature software and tax return software reduce back and forth. Say your accountant needs you to sign a document, but you can’t make it to their office. Your accountant can send you the document via the Cloud for you to sign.
You also eliminate paperwork and filing tasks that can take hours to organize. As a business owner, the more tech-savvy you are, the more efficient your relationships with your employees, investors, and clients will be.
Your accountant should also be up to date with financial tech trends in your industry, including, where relevant, understanding how to account for income from cryptocurrencies and other potential profit builders.
Will Your New Accountant Value Security?
Convenient methods may not always be the safest. More technology use means less of your paperwork is in-person and protected by physical security measures. Having a lot of your valuable financial information online could also be a security risk, but it doesn’t have to be with the right accountant. You’ll need to find someone who isn’t just technically savvy but smart enough to protect your documents from external threats.
Your new accountant should prioritize keeping their clients’ sensitive information safe and have an awareness of encryption methods and software. Ask them what practices they use to maintain data integrity and security and what they intend to do if that information is leaked.
The appropriate answer is: your information won’t get leaked if they can help it! Still, anything can go wrong, so your accountant must have a game plan if this occurs. Your accountant should also perform regular backups of all business documents just in case.
What Services will they Offer Your Business?
It’s better financially to choose an accountant that offers multiple services. You will also save a lot of time speaking to and mitigating tasks to your team at payroll. Most accountants have a specialty – like tax filings or financial statements. You need to understand your new hires’ strengths and weaknesses, so you can hire another accountant or find another team that can fill in the roles your accountant can’t fill.
Be sure to ask if your accountant is comfortable with tax planning or coming up with a strategy that can assist you during that time. An accountant that can manage your family expenses and your business expenses can set you up for success in the future.
In the early days of growing your business, you probably won’t need to spend too much time worrying about tax optimization, paying yourself a pension, or dividing profits around the company, but eventually you will. Plan ahead to get the right accounting support to ensure that you are fit for whatever future vision you want to achieve.