10 questions you should ask UK accountants before you hire them
 In Advice, Blog

Choosing to hire an accountant to look after your accountancy needs and tax affairs is a big decision. It is estimated that there around 340,000 qualified accountants in the UK. That’s a lot of accountants to choose from.

From the overall cost to the local factor, here is a list of questions you should be asking UK accountants:

1. What are your fees?

It is now commonplace for accountants to offer fixed price accountancy packages including cloud software. On your first meeting you should ask the accountant to talk you through the options and fees, so you can decide which one is most suited to your needs.

Accountancy fees should not be the only deciding factor, but it’s important to understand what you’re paying for.

2. Who will handle my account?

It’s important to know who your main point of contact at the firm will be. In theory, this should be your accountant, though at times they may ask a colleague or associate to step in and help. Mention to your accountant that you would like to arrange to have a meeting or a call with everyone who will be looking after you.

What you don’t want to find is that you will be dealing with several people who haven’t had the opportunity to get fully up to speed with your account.

3. Is the accountant near me?

Whilst most of your accountancy and tax needs can be handled over the phone or online, it is nice to know that you can have a face to face meeting with your accountant. This helps to build trust plus it gives you the opportunity to discuss matters in greater detail.

4. What are your opening hours?

The standard operating hours for UK accountants are 9 am to 5 pm. These standard hours may not be suitable for everyone. For instance, you may work shifts, or, you’re unable to make personal calls whilst at work.

Ask your accountant if they are able to offer extended opening times, or if they have a system in place for reviewing messages outside of the standard office hours.

5. What are your qualifications?

UK accountancy firms will employ people with differing levels of qualifications, from trainees to accountants who have made it to partner level. Don’t be scared for fear of causing offense what qualifications the person who will be looking after you holds.

6. Do you have experience with my kind of business?

Whilst it’s not vital that the accountant has a thorough understanding of the industry that you work in, it’s important for them to be aware of any rules or regulations that pertain to financial reporting.

As a team of Chartered Accountants with offices in Lincoln, Gainsborough, Newark, Retford, Sleaford and London we have specialist knowledge and experience across most sectors, including; agriculture, non-profit organisations and property and construction.

7. What accounting systems do you use?

It’s not necessary for you to become an expert in the accounting system your accountant uses. It will be useful for you to have a basic understanding of their processes.

This will also be a useful question to ask if you are switching accountants or are moving from paper-based accounts to cloud accounting.

8. What other services can you offer?

Some accountants may offer services that you may need further down the line. Ask for a list of the services available and this may include financial services, payroll, pensions and auto enrolment, succession planning etc.

9. How will you make sure I never miss a deadline?

One of the reasons for hiring an accountant may be that you want a professional advising you on how to operate more tax efficiently whilst making sure you are adhering to all the rules and regulations laid out by HMRC. One of the most important roles of an accountant is making sure you don’t miss a deadline.

Failure to submit information and documentation on time could see you being issued with a penalty charge or fine.

Even though it may be the accountant who has messed up, it will be you who will have to pay the fine or penalty charge, not the accountant. So, you have the right to understand what processes they have in place to ensure you never miss a deadline.

10. What value can you add to my business?

A good accountant should be able to do more than balance your books. They should offer timely advice on how to structure your business for tax efficiency purposes and provide guidance to help your business grow.

As an established firm of accountants with offices in Lincoln, Gainsborough, Newark, Retford, Sleaford and London, we’ve built a team who is proactive and not reactive. We stay on top of the changing tax landscape and have processes in place that enable us to act quickly to changes.

Hopefully, you will use your accountant for many years’, so it is worth taking the time to find one that meets your requirements. We hope this list provides a good starting point for assessing the suitability of potential accountants.

As part of our service, Wright Vigar can give you the confidence that all of these questions are covered, giving you peace of mind that your finances are in good hands. Please contact us to see how we can help make your business life easier.

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