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How to find a good accountant

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Are you wondering how to find a good accountant? Whether you’re self employed or running your own business, having a good accountant can help save you both time and money. If you’re running on a tight budget they might not seem an essential expense, but often the advice and support they provide can be invaluable. If you’re looking for a new accountant, how do you go about choosing one?

Do your research

There is lots of choice when it comes to accountants, with small local firms, large national chains and online providers. Do some research to see what’s available in your area and ask friends who use accountants for their recommendations. It’s important to consider exactly what you’re looking for and the type of accountants you want to work with. This way you can start to build up a shortlist.

Check their qualifications

Anyone can set themselves up as an accountant, but that doesn’t mean they’ll provide a good service. It’s best to go for one that’s a member of a professional body: ICAEW (Chartered) and ACCA (Certified). This way you’ll have more confidence in their abilities.

How much do they charge?

There are big variations in the amounts that accountants charge, depending on the size of the practice and where in the country they’re based. For filing a self assessment form, some local accountants will charge between £150 – £200 excluding VAT. However, you could be charged as little as £50 plus VAT by an online accountant. It’s important to check exactly what you’re receiving for your money. For example, do they provide you with information on what you can and cannot claim or do they simply use your figures to prepare a tax return?

How do they charge?

Some accountants now charge a fixed fee for their services, but there are still practices that prefer an hourly rate. A fixed fee accountant is a more practical solution for the self-employed and small businesses, as you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying each month. There’s no risk that you’ll run up a large bill for additional calls and support.how to find a good accountant

What do you need help with?

You need to think about exactly how you’re going to use the services of an accountant and the type of relationship you want to build with them. Are you just looking for one off help with your self assessment form or do you need ongoing support? An accountant can provide assistance in a range of areas, including PAYE, VAT, personal and business tax, accounts and setting up a business.

What experience do they have?

Sometimes it’s important to use an accountant who’s experienced in your particular industry. This is especially true if there’s any specific legislation or tax rules that they need to be aware of. They will also be up to speed with your market, customers and how you make your money. However, if it’s just a general business then this isn’t always necessary. Instead look for accountants who operate with similar sized clients. There’s no point working with someone who spends most of their time looking after large multi-nationals if you’re a small home based business. The accountant won’t have enough time for your work and you’ll end up getting forgotten about. It’s far better to look for a smaller practice that can devote the time to your accounts.

Once you’ve got together your shortlist, you need to meet with them in person. A lot of the success of a business relationship is down to the personalities, so it’s crucial that you can get along with your accountant and they understand your requirements.

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About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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