Accountants – ten a penny?

Bank Manager

How to choose the right accountant for your business

I’m a pretty even-tempered sort of person really. Apart from the odd Bristol City game, one of the few things that really winds me up is the damage caused by rogue accountants or amateur bookkeepers.

It’s a sad fact that unqualified people are able to practice as accountants; unfortunately the accounting profession isn’t protected in the same way as say, the legal profession. As a result, over the years the Blenheim team has been brought in to pick up the pieces of several businesses left high-and-dry by poor accounting practices on behalf of clients who are unable to gain compensation.

Appointing the right accountant for your business, be it a start-up or a mature family run enterprise, can make all the difference between growth and stagnation, profit or loss, compliance and risk. Good accountants exist to provide you with the financial guidance to support your business goals, combined with the procedures and practices that allow you to sleep at night. Moreover, qualified, knowledgeable and experienced accountants will act on your behalf and get the job done more thoroughly and more efficiently, so that in the end you save time and money.  But how do you know you’ve got the right accountant for your business?

5 tips to consider when appointing an accountant

1. Choose someone you can work with

First and foremost, find someone you can respect and trust. Your accountant is a key member of business leadership, their advice should count. Take time to meet them face-to-face and interview them as you would any other member of your management team.

2. Check their personal qualifications

It takes years to become a qualified accountant, and there’s a reason for that. Just because someone’s good at maths doesn’t make them a good accountant; while a mathematical brain is certainly an asset, so is a deep understanding of UK accounting, tax, personal and company law, analytical skills, the ability to look at a balance sheet and immediately spot an error or a trend. You wouldn’t allow a dentist to give you a heart-transplant, so don’t allow a mathematician loose on your accounts.

 3. Look for a firm that’s backed by a recognised professional body

There are 3 professional accounting bodies – the two main ones are the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW), and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and if your accountant is a member of either of them, you’re protected. As a Chartered Accountancy Practice, Blenheim pays to belong to the ICAEW and agrees to operate under a certain moral and ethical code that ensures that your business is overseen by only qualified professionals, covered by professional indemnity insurance, with continuous professional development in place to keep them up to date. Moreover, we’re regularly and independently inspected to ensure we comply.  If an accountancy firm doesn’t subject itself to this level of rigour, you have to question ‘why-not’?

4. Have they had experience with similar businesses to yours?

Now, I’m not talking about necessarily experience in the same sector of business here. What I mean is, have they got examples of clients that they’re working with who are of a similar size and set up, have similar goals or challenges. What have they done for these clients? Are you able to get references, are there case studies readily available, or better still, are you able to talk to these clients?

5. Consider the X-Factor – no, not the Simon Cowell one!

It’s hard to define, but you know you’ve got the right accountant if you can come away feeling more positive, more energised, more focussed. You’ve got the x-factor if you can find an accountant who ‘gets’ your business and is almost as enthusiastic about it as you are, even more so if they’re aligned to your world view on business investment, growth, staffing, supplier management and customer care.

Finding an accountant that fits your business makes a huge difference to business success. No, we’re not ten-a-penny, but neither are good accountants so very difficult to find – take your time, choose a professional, appoint with confidence.