If you are a business looking for an accountant in Oxfordshire or elsewhere the choice can be a bit bewildering. A bit like standing in the wine aisle in the supermarket.
Do you pick on price – whatever is cheapest will do?
Do you pick on price – something mid-priced will hopefully taste better but not cost the earth?
Do you stick with a tried and trusted favourite – at least you know what it tastes like?
Do you read articles and tasting notes and select something new and different which sounds promising?
Do you pick one a friend recommended?
Maybe your wine buying habits are different but either way when it comes to looking for a new accountant for your business many people face a similar dilemma. So, if you are currently looking for a new accountant in Oxfordshire or elsewhere here are some helpful tips:
1. Decide what you want to do yourself and what they will do. If your budget is fixed it will go further if you only ask them to do things you cannot do. On the other hand if doing paperwork is stopping you earning more money then frankly you should outsource more!
2. Pick on value for money not price. There are accountants to suit every budget but you should consider the potential problems which might result from picking the cheapest. People with no qualifications can also call themselves accountants. Not paying a bit more for someone with training and experience who can give good advice could be the most expensive decision you ever make.
3. Who does the work? You may meet an impressive person but exactly how much of their time will your fees buy? If you will be dealt with mostly by their team ask about their abilities/qualifications too. Some accountants outsource work to India. If this matters to you ask any potential accountant if they do this.
4. Use technology to drive down costs. For example, we recommend Xero for small business accounting as it is much more flexible than Sage or QuickBooks or spreadsheets. We also maximise use of portals and e-filing to make the most of modern technology. Make sure whatever they use any potential accountant is keeping up to date with IT changes.
5. Friends recommendations should always make your shortlist. Glossy advertising and persuasive meetings are all very well but what are they really like? Ask your friend why they like them. If you don’t have personal recommendations read any recommendations on linkedin or ask local professionals.
6. The world is growing. How often do you need to physically meet your accountant? If the answer is frequently pick someone from your immediate area. If the answer is only a few times a year or less you can pick from a much wider area. For example, we have business clients in a wide area including the cOtswolds, Thames Valley and central London who we visit regularly.
7. Do you like them, would you trust them? It is really important you choose someone who explains things clearly in a way you can understand and who you trust to give you advice on the complex decisions you need to make. Different accountancy firms have quite different styles. Find the one which works for you.
8. Be upfront about fees and services. Gone are the days when clients never knew how much they would be charged or what they had agreed to. Any potential accountant should be able to give a clear quote for a very clearly defined service. Payment terms should be clear too. Often you can pay by direct debit or credit card as well as convential methods.
Although people change accountants much more frequently than they used to, it is still not something that you should be changing every year or two – you will probably benefit from an accountant knowing you and your business in detail over a number of years.
Finally, don’t put up with poor service, inadequate or non-existent advice or random unexpected fees. There are lots of really good firms of accountants out there so it is definitely worth changing. If you like what you see on our website why not give me a call. If your business is in Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds, Thames Valley or Central London, you are in our area and I would love the opportunity to come and share why so many of our clients recommend us.
PS Mine is usually a cold dry Italian white wine!