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Factors to Consider in Finding a Suitable Accountant

The task of finding a suitable accountant for your business is one that should not be taken lightly. As the accountant is usually involved in every aspect of your business and to some extent your private life, you need to have an accountant who you can relate to both on a professional and personal level. You also need to feel that the accountant will have a genuine concern for your business and its success.

There is no reason why you should be loyal to your existing accountant particularly if the firm is not performing. Changing accountants is a relatively simple procedure and should not cause any disruption to your business.

How then do you choose the right accountant for your business? The best thing to do is firstly select about three firms who you feel may be suited. You can do this by asking for a recommendation from a business colleague and also searching the directory of accounting firms on this web site. You should then contact each firm to make an appointment and take along a list of the questions that you would want answered at the meeting.

Some of the important questions that should to be considered when selecting or evaluating an accountant are:

  • Is the accountant a member of a recognised professional accounting organisation?
  • What is the size of the firm?
  • Who will be handling your affairs and what are their professional qualifications?
  • Does the accountant have knowledge of your particular industry?
  • Is the accountant able to provide business advice and assist in the financial management of your business?
  • Does the firm provide advice on investments and assistance with business and personal financing?
  • Will the accountant return your calls within a reasonable time?
  • How long will the accountant take to complete your work?
  • How accessible is the partner looking after you? A common complaint from business owners is that over time they have less contact with the partner.
  • Do you feel that the accountant has an extensive knowledge of income tax and GST law and keeps up-to-date?
  • Is the accountant familiar with the accounting software that your business operates?
  • Does the accountant have a newsletter or some form of periodic communication to inform you of issues that are of interest to your business?
  • What is the accountant's hourly rate and the basis upon which fees are charged? For example, will you be charged for every phone call and also for travelling time?

It may be a good idea to obtain confirmation in writing on some of these matters (particularly with respect to fees) to avoid any disputes in the future. It may also be worthwhile obtaining the contact details for three of the firm's business clients so that you can ask further questions about the firm and its services. Finally, take time to consider your decision and don't be afraid to consult a friend or business colleague for advice.

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