Time and again, a bad accountant will lose you time and money when they should be saving you both. They'll also miss crucial opportunities for your growth. In the most extreme cases of incompetence or fraud, they can even cause you serious legal trouble.
Suffice it to say that accountants can make or break a small business, so it pays to get the right one. And while changing accountants might seem stressful, it's often a stress worth enduring.
But what are some of the warning signs?
How do you know when it's time to change your accountant?
1. Inadequate tax planning and personal mitigation
The worst accountants won't find ways for you to pay less tax. Often they won't even try.
After all, tax planning advice and personal mitigation suggestions all take time to prepare. For that reason, many just fill out your tax return, prepare your financial statements, and send you the bill.
Assuming you're paying a fixed rate (and no accountant should charge by the hour), why should they do any more?
2. Inability to explain things in simple terms
Some accountants use industry jargon to keep you in the dark. In doing so, they believe, they'll appear more valuable to their clients.
But the best accountants understand the only way to convey true value is to actually provide it. To this end, they'll take the time to help you understand complex terminology and obscure financial regulations. Most importantly, they'll put your finances first.
3. No proactive business services
A bad accountant will never ask about your business. Often, they're just not interested. You're just one client, they figure, and they've got their own business to run anyway. Unfortunately, this attitude is far too common among accountants for small business. And it's poison for your growth.
Think about it. If your accountant doesn't understand where your business is going, how will they help you get there?
If missed opportunities sound familiar, you should think about changing accountants.
4. Delayed return of phone calls
Think of your accountant just like any other employee. In fact, they may be your most important. So if they're never around to take your calls or respond to urgent requests, what does that mean for your business? How would you normally react?
Good accountants make themselves available to talk to, regardless of whether the problem is urgent. Always remember who they work for, and ask if they're doing their job.
5. Fees above the market rate
Fees say a lot about an accountant. It's not like they're going to make a mistake. And if they're charging more than the market rate, it's a good indication of their priorities.
Of course, it's always possible they deserve the higher rates. But in that case, they should be able to justify them. Don't be afraid to ask your accountant to break down what they've done for their fees.
Crucially, a good accountant will pay for themselves by saving you money. If they're just another overhead, it's probably a time for a change.
Article kindly provided by thenumbersmith.co.uk
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