Your relationship with your accountant is everything.
I once heard a lady speak at an awards evening, telling the audience that at times she would sit on the floor of her office and cry because she felt like she couldn’t continue with her struggling business and because she felt totally alone.
I really wanted to say to her, go and get yourself a great accountant, not a good accountant, a GREAT accountant. A great accountant is someone who will support you through your most challenging times and will be there to celebrate your achievements too.
This month I want to offer some advice on qualities a business owner should look for when they are trying to find their great accountant:
Someone who’s trustworthy: When it comes to your business, it‘s like finding the right childcare for your offspring. You must trust the person who is taking care of your baby. You want peace of mind that your accountant is ethical and can be trusted with all the details they will be privy to surrounding the money maker.
Someone who’s available: Your accountant should be available. This means responding to phone calls, emails and meeting requests in prompt fashion. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you cannot get in touch with someone when you have a problem or a question that you need answered.
Someone who’s a problem solver: Your accountant should be someone who when faced with a problem, can quickly identify solutions. As an experienced professional you should also feel that your accountant can help to prevent problems from occurring.
Someone who’s proactive: You want a go-getter, a goal kicker, someone who is a partner with you rather than an on–looker.
Someone who’s an innovative learner: Someone who is great in their job is someone who is always working to better themselves professionally. A great accountant should be constantly learning, they should be innovative and thinking creatively, while staying up to date with the latest information and trends in their field.
Someone who can help you achieve goals: As well as supporting you through difficult times, a great accountant is someone who also helps you to look toward the future and what you hope to accomplish. You want someone who can help you make consistent improvements in your business.
Someone who works in real-time: Your accountant should work with real-time information, helping you to optimise your compliance processes and interpret results for you.
Someone who you click with: While all the above qualities are important. This one could possibly be the most important. Of course, you want someone who can help your business to perform better and who gets back to you sooner rather than later. However, its super duper, really important to find someone that you can create an open and honest relationship with. If you don’t really like your accountant as a person, it may be hard to work with them in the long run.
A few other ways to determine if you’ve found your perfect life partner, I mean accountant, would be to:
- See if they have experience within your specific industry
- Ask about other services they offer (other than tax) like business advisory, strategic planning, cash flow management, succession planning etc.
- Ensure they have a team, rather than relying on a solo professional
- Verify their credentials
- Ensure they can price upfront or provide a service agreement
- Interview them in person and make sure they can answer your questions with clear explanations
- Ask them what their business growth rate has been over the past three years
If you don’t have an accountant who meets much of the above, there is no harm in looking for a new one.