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Do I need an accountant?

Why you need an accountant

There is nothing stopping a small business owner from keeping their own accounts if they wish to do so.  With the use of cloud computing accounting packages (Xero and FreeAgent) it is easier for the small business owner to maintain their accounting records.  We actively encourage our clients to use cloud accounting packages to complete their bookkeeping and reduce their accountancy fees.

However, accounting can be intensive and requires a great deal of training (chartered accountants undertake a 4 year training contract).

An accountant cannot only take the tedious burdens off your plate but can also help you run your business more efficiently.  Many small business owners prefer to have their accounts and tax returns completed by a professional, to allow them to focus on their business.

At the end of the day it is the legal responsibility of the small business owner to make sure the accounts are correct.  Is it worth taking the risk?  Accounts and tax return completed by a qualified professional also prove to HMRC that you are taking the necessary steps to comply with the regulations.

Which accountant?

(i) Do they meet my business requirements?

You need to ensure their service meets your needs.  Do they respond quickly to yours queries?  Do they provide a single point of contact? Do they provide proactive tax planning?

(ii) Do they belong to a Chartered Institute?

Anyone can call themselves an accountant and this can lead to malpractice.  You need to ensure your accountant belongs to an appropriate professional body.  This ensures they are subject to a disciplinary scheme and carry adequate professional indemnity insurance.  There are several accountancy bodies e.g. ACA (Chartered Accountants), CIMA (Management Accountants) & ACCA (Certified Accountants).  Chartered Accountants undergo the most stringent training and provide expertise in statutory reporting and tax.

(iii) How do they charge fees?

You need to be careful that you are not caught by hidden extras.  Fixed fees are becoming increasingly common and you should endeavour to agree the fees up front.

In summary

  • Use a qualified accountant
  • Shop around for the right accountant for your business
  • Negotiate fixed fees
  • Obtain a dedicated contact within the accountancy practice