How to choose the right accountant

Following last week’s post about how an accountant can free you from bookkeeping to focus on running your business, how do you know which accountant to choose once you’ve made the decision?

In this post we list 5 things to consider when choosing the right accountant.

1. Cost

You’ll likely encounter many different cost options because the cost of an accountant varies depending on the specific services you’re seeking. These services may include bookkeeping, tax services, or more complex business accounting tasks. Some accountants charge per hour, while others may request a flat rate per project.

Business Insider reports accounting hourly rates typically fall between $200 and $300 per hour, while a simple business tax return could cost a flat fee of $2,200 to $3,300. You have to consider your budget and decide what specific services you require, and then look for accountants within your budget.

2. Interview

Speak to the accountant you’re considering before you hire. Make sure you understand how they work and what services they specialise in. You may have questions for your accountant as your business grows, so get a feeling for whether the accountant would be easily available to speak to you when you require it. Also look for someone whose goal is to help you manage your cash flow, and not just boost their bottom line.

3. Credentials and references

Look at the credentials of any accounting firm or individual accountant you’re considering. Make sure they’re properly trained and experienced, and don’t forget to ask for references. Just like when hiring an employee, you’re hiring someone to perform a service for you. We recommend speaking with at least two referees before you make your decision. Other ways of securing references can be via social media, review sites or business associations, and you may also consider running a background check.

4. Location

Depending on your situation and the type of business you run, you may want an accountant that you can meet frequently with in person. If that’s the case, seek someone near you or consider whether you can get by with phone calls and video conferencing if the firm is further away. It all depends on your specific needs and preferences, which only you can define.

5. Data and Software

One big benefit of working with accountants is that you don’t have to calculate anything manually – but they don’t do it manually either. Accountants typically use software to keep track of client finances, so it’s a good idea to find out what software they use and whether it’s compatible with your needs. If it’s going to be complicated to get your data in and out of their database, perhaps you need to look elsewhere – discuss what they use and how that would integrate with your business.