10 Ways to get more from your business accountant

Claude Collica
Oct 27, 2017
Business
4
minute read
Great business accountants don’t just do your taxes, they add measurable value to your business, all for an affordable cost that you can control.

A growing business rapidly finds it needs the services of an accountant in order to help manage the finances. 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?

Below are our top 10 tips for getting the most from your business accountant while managing the cost of its service. These are important issues to address; used effectively, your business accountant can make a huge contribution to the growth of your business long term.

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.

*If you’re interested in setting up a Fixed Price Agreement, chat to us, we’re happy to jump on a call and answer any of your questions.

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 business accountant will change – you may need additional work, more wide-ranging services, or less support as the business becomes large enough to support the accounting function in-house. Update budgets according to what your business needs.

3. Buy what you need

Most business 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 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 business 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 a 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, you won’t be able to take full advantage of them. An accountant should be a trusted business partner who is able to provide valuable support as you run your business. If that’s not an accurate description of your relationship, it’s time to ask why!

6. Find a business accountant with a holistic approach

Your business accountant should be able to advise you and your business on its needs from start-up to business succession planning, and it shouldn’t stop there. Behind every business is a person and a family. There is a multitude of tax effective personal investment strategies that your accountant should be able to coordinate internally, or with an external wealth advisor. Make sure your accountant understands the holistic approach that you need, both within your business and regarding your personal wealth.

Related article: Succession Planning explained – What is Succession Planning?

7. Make sure you receive proactive advice

If you’re finding your accountant is telling you about the problem after the fact, your mutual communication needs to improve. Three factors will ensure your accountant can provide you with proactive advice – they do your monthly bookkeeping, they have access to real-time data through cloud-based accounting software, and you’re scheduled for either monthly or quarterly meetings that include tax planning discussions, depending on your budget. Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.

8. Understand the vital role technology plays in a modern business

Accounting software has changed; products like Xero or QuickBooks Online work exceptionally well for your business accounting needs. They enable your business to connect with a multitude of other cloud-based add-ons that can help your business – from inventory management to time management. Make sure your accountant is in the know with the best add-ons for your business and can help coordinate the implementation of the software. You won’t regret it.

Related article: Increase your profits with cloud accounting

9. Ask twice if you don’t understand

Business and tax advisory is not easy to comprehend. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you understand the situation. Your business accountant should be able to simplify the situation along with providing a plan that clearly sets out your path moving forward. It’s your future. Your money. Your outcomes.

10. Get what you pay for

Cheapest fees don’t guarantee the best outcomes. You want (and deserve) the best results for your financial future. Don’t be afraid to ask for an action (or service) plan that outlines the deliverables and value, mutually agreed to before a commitment is made. You will feel better knowing you’re getting the best! If your accountant can’t explain their deliverables, their value and their commitment through a service plan, then alarm bells should be ringing.

Article by
Claude Collica
Claude is a Certified Practising Accountant with over 15 years' experience working with small business clients, assisting them to meet their business and personal goals.

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