What should you look for in an accountant?
Someone who is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and keen to see your business succeed would be an impressive start, wouldn’t it?
This describes the overwhelming majority of accounting firms in the world. Most accountants are genuine, upstanding people who want nothing more than to see our clients grow and succeed.
So how do you separate the great from the good? How do you know which ones are going to give you a good level of service and be pleasant to talk to from the ones that can help transform your business for the better?
Even well-meaning accountants can make mistakes that ultimately cost their clients money, or at least make them miss out on opportunities to save or generate money.
A great accountant will be everything above while doing every little thing to their fullest. It’s the attention to detail and the genuine investment (not just interest) in your success that differentiates the best accountants from the rest.
In this article, I’ll talk you through 5 things that can easily fall off your radar when choosing an accountant, but that could make a massive difference to your business over the long term.
Using outdated technology
In 2020 there really is no excuse for charging for manual work like data entry, and yet some accountants continue to do it.
With the technology we have today, it’s possible to almost completely automate tasks like data entry. So, make sure you’re not paying by the hour for your accountant to do it for you.
Now I’m not saying that accountants that charge for menial work are trying to swindle you. Some just prefer the old-fashioned approach. But when that outdated approach is wasting your money, it might be time to think about finding a more efficient solution.
Failing to get to know your business
Remember what I mentioned about being interested vs invested in your business? Well, an accountant that is just ‘interested’ is probably not going to take the time to dive deep into your business, but an invested partner will.
But where is the benefit in your accountant getting to know your business, other than slightly raising the standard of conversation when you speak to them?
An accountant that really knows your business will be able to:
- identify the most efficient tax strategy for you,
- help keep you on track month to month and,
- spot opportunities to cut costs or increase revenue that, over time, will add up to a huge difference in the financial health and success of your business.
Another key feature of great accountants is how often and openly they communicate. If you don’t have good communication with your accountant, how can you hope to build a strong relationship?
Your accountant might do an outstanding job when it’s time to file your tax return, but if they disappear for the rest of the year, they’re not doing as much as they could be to help you out.
Great accountants will be there for you every step of your business journey, doing the work you need them to do. Such as reconciliation and reporting, but also acting as a guiding hand in helping you understand your financial situation and advising you on the best decisions to save your money.
Having unsecured passwords or weak password management
I couldn’t get through this list without talking about security. It has become such an important part of what we do that failing to take it seriously is no longer acceptable.
Accountants have to be more vigilant than ever with security, especially because we handle such sensitive data about our clients. Financial data breaches cost businesses on average $500,000 every time they happen.
If your accountant is using unsecured personal devices to access your information, it’s not safe. If they’re not using secure password managers and extra security like 2-factor authentication, your information is not safe.
The amount of risk you take when working with an accountant that has poor password management and cybersecurity is just not worth it. The trouble is there’s no sure-fire way of knowing what their security processes are before you work with them, but you can ask questions to find out.
Try asking prospective accountants what measures they take to secure your data, where it’s stored, whether they have a recovery plan when a breach or data loss occurs.
Also, check how they send files (ideally, they should use a secure cloud-based sharing platform), control access to documents, and what training their staff receive in detecting threats.
If they can answer all these questions confidently, then the chances are that they’re taking security seriously, and you are ready.
Not providing value for money
There’s a famous saying in the service industry: “there are 3 kinds of service: Good, Fast, and Cheap. You can pick any 2” and this can apply to accounting.
You don’t want an accountant that offers a good service cheap, because it won’t be fast. And you don’t want an accountant that offers a fast service cheap, because it won’t be good.
Accountants that offer a good and fast service will not be cheap. But within this group, it’s the ones who provide the best value along with their quality and attentiveness that are the ones you want to work with.
What does value look like?
- It’s reconciling your accounts rather than just tracking income and expenses.
- It’s providing full end-of-year accounting reports rather than just filling in your tax return.
- It’s sharing their knowledge and expertise rather than reciting jargon in the hope you’ll go away.
If your accountant is failing to provide value, then your money could go much further if you invested in a different partner. Accounting shouldn’t be seen as a cost, but an investment that provides a tangible return to your business.
If this is missing, know that you can find it elsewhere.
At MBS Accountancy we strive to go above and beyond for every client and be counted among the great rather than the average.
You can find out just how much we can offer your business when you book a 15-minute discovery call with us. There’s no commitment, but we hope you’ll join our hundreds of happy clients after you hear how much we have helped them.