Investment is a vital part of business. This is an obvious thing to say when you are starting out, as you will need various items of equipment and, once beyond a minimal size, you will have staff costs too. Depending on what it is you do, you may also need a vehicle or on office, raw materials and branded items ranging from mugs to business cards.
All that can seem like a lot of investment and if it is a new company, you will need some start-up funds. Even if you are running an existing company you will need to go on investing, such as if you expand and move to larger premises or take on more staff.
For all that, the fact remains that there can be no more important investment than your accountant.
Why you need an accountant
There are, of course, some basic reasons why an accountant is important:
- It saves you time doing the books yourself if you are a sole trader or run a micro-business
- An accountant can ensure you get your tax calculations right
- Accounting can help you track your business expenses, some of which might be tax deductible
- Accountants can also help you find the best business structure for your firm, as well as the best software to use
All this is absolutely crucial. You don't want to break the law on tax and be fined. Nor do you want to set your firm up with the wrong structure, or example opting against limited liability if this was the best move and consequently leaving yourself vulnerable to the loss of personal assets - such as your home. Worse still, if you use the wrong software you might end up downloading software that is fake or not up to the job.
Why you should check your accountant's credentials first
However, deciding to hire an accountant is only the first step. You should also carry out due diligence and not just pick the first name you come across.
Legally, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as an accountant as formal qualifications are not mandatory - although in practice this only works for those setting up on their own, as an accountancy practice will not want to take on someone who isn't properly accredited.
It is wise to ensure you do have a properly accredited accountant, as then you know they have had the full professional training and passed the exams to show they are competent to do the job. Otherwise, you risk taking on a cowboy who will make a mess of things and leave your business in trouble.
There are three professional qualifications people can attain in the UK to prove they are properly skilled to do the job of accountancy:
- ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant) - a globally recognised business diploma from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.
- ACCA (Associate Chartered Certified Accountant) - Another qualification recognised in countries around the world, this includes three years practice in a firm.
- CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) - This is a UK-based professional qualification specifically focused on accounting for business.
When you set out to hire an accountant or accountancy firm, check for these letters of accreditation, as these will show that you are hiring the real deal. Because these qualifications establish membership of a professional body, those with them are bound by codes of practice and ethics, while as a client you can seek redress through complaining to them if your accountant acts improperly or illegally. If you hire an accountant without such accreditations, you have no protection.
What makes a great accountant?
Having the right qualifications should be the minimum qualification before you even consider hiring someone as your accountant. But there is more to consider in order to make sure you are hiring the best possible person or firm to take care of your company's finances.
Indeed, all the following are very important aspects of the service you should consider:
- Do they answer queries in a timely manner, especially when they are urgent?
- Are they focused on delivering accurate results? Getting it right first time, every time is extremely important
- Excellent organisation, ensuring they stay on top of paperwork and deadlines
- Willingness to learn - especially when it comes to understanding the evolving needs of your business
- Problem solving and creativity - rather than just crunching numbers, a really good accountant will also think ahead to find solutions to emerging problems
- Supportive - always willing to get on the phone or answer an email to help solve an issue
- Transparent - the fewer surprise bills the better, the ideal number of these being zero!
How can your accountant give you a great return on investment?
Ultimately, your business is about making money. For that reason, when you hire an accountant your aim should be to ensure that the fee you pay them will be less than the money you save through their services.
A good accountant will achieve this in several ways:
- By ensuring legal compliance, you can avoid fines
- By arranging your tax affairs so you keep more of your revenue and less of it goes to the Treasury
- By carrying out a business health check that helps establish what is working well and what you need to change
- Helping eliminate mistakes by your firm
- Freeing up your time to focus on money-making activities
An accountant that can do all this for you will be the most invaluable of investments; for what you pay, you will see much more coming back as you pay less tax, streamline your operations, eliminate costly errors and focus on building your business.
How we can help
At SKZ, we set out to provide you with the best possible service by keeping your tax bills down while offering a free consultation or business health check at any time.
As well as being punctual in what we do, we also offer unlimited telephone support, so you know we are always on your side.
All this comes with a fixed fee and no hidden extra bills.
Call us today and find out how we can help your business thrive.