How To Find A Great Accountant These Days
Hiring a great accountant is a vital decision that, at some point, every business owner has to make. You might be able to do your own accounts for a while to help cut down on expenses or when money is tight. But, unless your background happens to include an extensive background in accounting, it’s better to hire a professional you trust to take care of this part of your business in the long run.
Every company in Ireland from Sole Traders to Public Companies is required to prepare financial statements and prepare their tax returns each year. Which is why finding an expert accountant is such an important business decision — nearly every aspect of your business has some financial aspect. By selecting a professional to handle this aspect of your business, you’ll be able to minimise issues and avoid costly fines and penalties when preparing your returns each year.
An accountant is also able to help your business in an operational, strategic, and advisory capacity. As you know, your accountant will help you keep records of financial transactions through bookkeeping services. But did you know that they also maintain corporate deadlines such as Corporation Tax return, Annual Returns and Directors Return? There’s a lot more that an accountant can help with in your business than you may realise. By having a professional take care of your finances, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business and be confident that your accountancy compliance responsibilities are taken care of.
The only problem? How to find the right person for the job.
Let’s review some of the steps you should take when looking for an accountant and learn how to narrow down the field to find the best accountant for your business.
1. Locations, Location, Location
In the past, it was very common to hire an accountant in your area. And we’ll admit that there’s a lot to be said for meeting with someone face to face and having an expert who really knows the ins and outs of business in your corner of the world.
But, that isn’t really necessary anymore.
We’re now in an age where the majority of accounting is done on computerised systems that use advanced accounting software. Which allows you to find an amazing accountant online based on their expertise and knowledge of your industry, not just by their location. Sometimes that can even mean you’ll find your perfect accountant in another city, county, or even another country! By using the video conferencing tools available now, you can literally work with an accountant anywhere in the world.
2. What’s your budget?
So you’ve made the decision to spend money on a professional accountant – fantastic! That doesn’t mean you have to go back to the drawing board on your budget. Before you get started, review your finances and see how much you’re realistically able to spend on this service and go from there. And while it’s important to keep your expenses under control, you shouldn’t compromise on the quality of the work you receive either. Just be sure to look for an accountant that is transparent with their fees and maybe even find one that offers fixed pricing. It’s a good place to start when you’re just getting started.
3. Do your homework.
Hiring an accountant means putting your trust in someone else to keep financial information about your business safe. You need to know that you can rely on this person to handle those sensitive details with professionalism and care. Unfortunately, when working with someone new, it’s hard to tell whether or not they will be reliable in this matter. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and ask for referrals before you move forward with an accountant.
You can always ask colleagues and people you know personally for recommendations on an accountant. But these days you’re able to get feedback on virtually any professional service online. There are plenty of resources that will give you valuable insight into how other business owners like you found their experience. Spend some time doing a little digging here to ensure that you have a good experience with your future accountant.
But wait, there’s more!
We’ve covered the basics of finding a great accountant, but there’s a lot more to consider here than just those three things. You want to make sure you’re looking for an accountant who is the right fit for your business in every way. Let’s go over a few more things to consider, now that you’ve gone through the initial steps of finding an accountant.
Industry Knowledge (Specifically, your industry)
When it comes to accounting, not all industries are created equal. Different industries have different requirements and it’s important that the accountant you select has an expert understanding of what your specific requirements are. Keeping that in mind, when researching accountants, look around and see if the accountant you’re considering specialises or is well-versed in your industry. If they’re not used to the requirements involved in your sector, then it might be advantageous to look for someone else.
Just like hiring any other member of your team or deciding whether to take on a new client, it’s key to make sure that they’re going to be compatible with your business. Not every accountant will be able to work well with the structure or practices that are normal in your organisation. For example, maybe your team is entirely remote. In that case, you would need to make sure that the accountant you’re considering is open to video conferences and email heavy correspondence. It’s just one of many factors to consider, but take some time to think of those parts of your business that may not suit every accountant.
It’s also worth considering an accountant who might be based outside of your own country. Some accountants specialise in accounting practices for more than one country (a common pairing you’ll see is Ireland and the UK, especially when it comes to payroll) But it’s very important to keep in mind that different countries have different accounting standards. So this should only be considered if the accountant or accountancy firm you’re considering has a proven successful track record in working internationally.
Let’s see some credentials
Saving one of the most important points for last, you need to make sure that the accountant you’re considering has the appropriate qualifications. Here in Ireland, there are four main institutions for accountancy qualifications.
- Chartered Accountants Ireland
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Institute of Certified Public Accountants
By choosing an accountant who is a member of one of these organisations, you can be confident that they’re a qualified, certified accountant. And once you’ve found a qualified accountant with professional experience in your industry — you’re well on your way to an accountancy match made in heaven.
When it comes to how your business operates and manages its finances, there are some very strict accountancy laws in Ireland on how to keep your business compliant. It’s key to research how proactive an accountant is in making sure your business is complying with all Irish account regulations such as registering for the appropriate taxes, filing your tax returns on time and communicating to Irish Revenue when necessary.
You’re not just looking for someone to manage the books for you. This is a member of your team that needs to be concerned about the future of your business. It’s their job to ensure that your business is compliant with all financial laws and is willing to put in the effort of maintaining accurate records. You never want Irish Revenue wondering where your money went and how it came in. Unless you hire someone who will be precise, thorough and proactive with your financials, you may find yourself spending more time pouring over your books than the actual accountant.
Tell us what you want (what you really, really want)
Whether you’re painting your house or you’re looking for an accountant, you want to be sure that they’re offering the services that you need. So, the first thing you should do is figure out what you want from an accountant. At minimum, an accountant is going to keep records of your income and expenses — but what else do you need?
There are some accountants who do not provide any sort of financial consulting and this limits their services to record-keeping only. If that’s not enough for your business, then you’ll need to keep looking. Maybe you need an accountant who can handle payroll for you as well. If your accountant doesn’t offer that service, you’ll need to find someone else to handle that (or do it in-house, which is costly and time consuming. We do not recommend that route.)
We know better than most that running a business isn’t easy. There are so many little things to look out for in day to day operations, hiring staff, or outsourcing operations. Fortunately, there are accounting firms and accounting services available to help advise you on how to run your business. Working with an accountant that can take care of your operational needs and help keep your business financially stable will keep your business running efficiently for years to come.