If you are contemplating hiring an accountant – or have already decided that you need to utilise the services of an accounting expert – you need to think carefully about exactly what you need. Simply hiring the first accountant you come across is rarely the most apposite choice; rather, you need to spend time considering the options available to you.
So, with that in mind, let’s break down exactly what you need to keep in mind.
When might I need an accountant?
Whether you are a sole trader, run a business or simply are thinking about making a significant financial decision – buying a home, for example – you will likely require the services of an accountant at one time or another. Key times when you are most likely to work with an accountant are:
- Organising the legal structure of a business
- Understanding the financial aspects of business management
- Filling in paperwork that will be sent to councils/government departments
- When you are involved in some form of tax investigation
- When you are applying for some form of loan or overdraft
- When you are looking to make a major purchasing decision (buying a house or a business, for example)
- When you want to sell a home or business
- When you are considering a significant financial investment
Consider your bespoke needs
Do you need your accountant to be on hand 24/7? Do you have very complicated matters that require attention? Do you need an accountant with a very particular set of skills and range of knowledge? If you are hiring them to work with your business, have they experience working with similar companies in the past? Are they adept at using cloud-based software? Do you have any social contacts that would be able to vouch for an accountant’s abilities? These are just some of the questions you need to think about.
Don’t focus on location
It used to be the case that the process of hiring an accountant simply involved finding one based near you. However, with nearly all accountants now able to work effectively online, this is rarely the best way of narrowing down your search. There are some incredibly efficient and powerful pieces of software for accountants which allow the accountant and the client to communicate – and work – successfully over the internet.
Is the accountant part of a professional body?
If you truly value peace of mind, then it’s probably worth checking to see if the freelance accountant you are thinking about hiring is regulated. Chartered accountants, for example, tend to be highly qualified and will nearly always have extensive workplace experience.
What is the cost?
While cost is not necessarily the be all and end all – you should be hiring an accountant for the value they can provide, after all – but if you are hiring a freelance accountant and you don’t have a particularly large budget, this is something you will definitely want to think about.