So, you're looking for a new accountant? Well you've come to the right place.
Here are 6 questions you should ask of your prospective accountant to ensure that they are the right fit for you, your business and your investments.
Firstly, what you need to understand about accountants is that their main source of new business (talking in general terms here) is referrals.
Generally, when people are searching for an accountant they'll talk to family, friends or their wider network about who they use and then look to engage with that accountant.
The challenge with accountants (because they're typically such lovely and accommodating people) is they will usually accept referrals even though the fit may not be right, often to sustain the relationship with the referrer.
So the following questions will help you to identify if the accountant is right for you, however you seek them out.
1. What are the purpose and values of your accountancy firm?
If you are wanting to build a relationship with a professional services company it is important that their values align with yours and that there is a framework to set the tone of your relationship.
Your deepest and darkest financial secrets will all be on display to your accountant, so it is important that you understand how and why they do what they do to give you confidence that you have the right fit.
2. Do you have any experience working with businesses/industries/investments like mine?
There are accountants who advertise their specialty and those who are more generalists. However, the generalists will still usually have specific industries, business or investment types that they are more familiar with or work with a lot.
An accountant who has experience in what you do can usually offer value straight off the bat compared to an accountant that needs to take time to build an understanding of your business.
3. What technology do you use to deliver your services?
This is a good question to understand if the accountant you are engaging is up to date with all of the technological efficiencies in the industry. Good accountancy firms have the ability to be completely paperless and can use technology to increase the level of service and speed for their clients.
Accounting software such as Xero is a must for the modern accountant, if they require your paper based records to carry out your work it is a good indication that they may not be up with the times.
4. What professional body are you a member of?
In New Zealand you do not need to be a member of a professional body to obtain a tax agency with the Inland Revenue Department (what you need to file tax returns on behalf of a person or entity).
Professional bodies such as CPA Australia & CAANZ create accountability for accountants to stay up to date with relevant standards, quality control and risk management. This should give you peace of mind that you are dealing with a professional organisation and not a cowboy.
5. Do you have the capacity to take on me and my work?
It is not uncommon for accountants to manage 150+ relationships and all the work that comes with. They may promise the world but be unable to deliver. Set the expectations early, identify what you need and the accountant’s ability to service your needs.
There is a service spectrum to consider ranging from a once a year catch up to handle your taxes to a strategic partner in helping you achieve your goals.
6. What is the value or return on my fees?
There is a saying 'you usually get what you pay for'. Generally. accountants aren't great sales people, usually they can save you 3 times what your fees are in tax but will never tell you.
Be careful when shopping on price as this will usually reflect the level of service and expertise you receive. When discussing price ask the question 'what is the return on my investment with you?' so you are comfortable that the value you receive is considerably more than you are paying.
If you are interested in a comparison for the accountancy firm that you are looking at please see our answers to the above 6 questions or please feel free to get in touch if you think we might be the right fit for you.
- Matt Vincent