Finding an accountant in the UK can be daunting, especially if you are new to the process or unfamiliar with the accounting industry. However, having a reliable and competent accountant is essential for small businesses and individuals to manage their finances and adequately comply with the law. This blog will explore critical considerations for finding an accountant in the UK, including credentials, experience, and fees. We will also provide some tips on how to do your research and make an informed decision when choosing an accountant. Whether you are a small business owner or freelancer or need personal tax advice, this guide will help you find the right accountant.

How to Choose an Accountant: A Step-By-Step Guide

Why Every Business Needs an Accountant

Unless you are a trained accountant, it can be costly in terms of time and money to handle the accounting requirements independently. This is because you may take longer to complete tasks and make mistakes. Hiring an accountant gives you your time back to spend on the business or more free time outside the business but also ensures you are 100% compliant with HMRC legislation and can even help your business grow. 

An accountant does much more than just file tax returns; they can help with the following: 

How to Choose an Accountant

Do You Need a Specialist Accountant?

Like other industries, accounting has specialised fields where some accountants focus their expertise. These fields may include contractor accounting, startup accounting, and general business accounting, among others. This allows accountants to become experts in a particular area, which can benefit businesses seeking accounting services in those fields. 

Before hiring an accountant, you should consider whether you need a specialist or a generalist. This will depend on the specific needs of your business and the type of accounting services you require. If you have particular accounting needs that fall within a specialised field, such as contractor accounting, you may consider hiring a specialist accountant with expertise in that area. On the other hand, if your needs are more general, a generalist accountant may be sufficient. It is essential to evaluate your needs and choose an accountant with the skills and experience to meet those needs effectively.

Check Client Reviews

One way to research the quality of an accounting firm is by checking out ratings and reviews on consumer review sites like Google and Trustpilot. It’s important to look for reviews from businesses similar to yours, as the experience of a much larger or smaller company may not be applicable to your needs. It’s also a good idea to ask the accounting firm for client testimonials, as these can provide valuable insights into their level of service and expertise.

It is also worth noting to check several review platforms, such as Google or Yell, to gauge the reviews, as some firms may only show their best ones on their websites. 

Ask Yourself if Location Matters

In the past, many businesses preferred to have their accounting firm located nearby, but the rise of cloud-based technology has made it easier for companies to collaborate remotely. As a result, location is now less of a factor when choosing an accounting firm. With cloud accounting, you and your accountant can access the same real-time data from anywhere, eliminating the need for physical proximity. This makes it possible to work with an accounting firm farther away without sacrificing the convenience or efficiency of the collaboration.

If you’re looking for the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with your accountant about your business, it may be helpful to choose an accounting firm that is within convenient travelling distance. 

Face-to-face meetings allow you to have more comprehensive conversations and benefit from general business advice, so meeting in person can be beneficial. Ultimately, the most important factor is finding an accounting firm that meets your needs and provides the level of service and expertise you require, regardless of location.

Proactive Not Reactive Accounting

When selecting an accountant, consider their level of proactivity and ask about ways they can help save your business money. For example, you can ask about the potential for offsetting a portion of your operating costs, such as phone bills and car expenses, against taxes. Keep in mind that there is a distinction between legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. It is important to work with an accountant who is knowledgeable about tax laws and can help you save money within the confines of the law. As the business owner, you are ultimately responsible for any penalties resulting from illegal business practices, so it is important to be cautious and choose an accountant who will act ethically.

An unproductive accountant can be detrimental to your business. Here at RJF Accounting, we often hear about “Armchair Accountants” who do the bare minimum for their fee and may even end up costing the business money. It is essential to work with an accountant who is proactive and can save you money rather than simply being another expense on your books. Look for an accountant who takes a proactive approach to your business and can help identify ways to save money and improve financial performance. 

Questions to Ask an Accountant

Asking a potential accounting firm a few basic questions before signing up will help you gauge if they are competent and a good fit for your needs. Below are a few basic ones you can use, but critically you need to ensure you ask the questions you want to address. 

  • What are your fees?
  • What services are included in the fees?
  • What is your preferred contact method?
  • Will I have a dedicated accountant? 
  • What additional services do you provide?
  • What are the most common accounting mistakes I need to avoid? 
  • Will you help me keep on top of tax deadlines? 
  • What is your preferred accounting software?
  • What is expected of me when using your services? 

Choosing An Accountant 

No matter who your accountant is if they make mistakes, your business pays the price, not them, so trust your gut instinct over a sales pitch. If something feels off or not quite right – find another accountant. 

A good accountant should be as passionate about your business succeeding as you are and should be proactive in helping you balance your books. As the old saying goes – you get what you pay for, so cheap is not always best with accounting, especially when the HMRC penalties can be very high. 

The team here at RJF Accounting are the experts in helping you make sound financial decisions for your business. Everything from banking to tax returns, we can help with it all!

We can assist with much more too! Everything from investor relations to tax advice and everything in between! We have helped launch startups, create new business opportunities and even helped businesses save thousands of pounds by assisting them to spot cost savings.

If you need assistance with the day-to-day accounting for your business or looking for more in-depth advice, you can call the team on 0161 5040629 or email us at hello@rjf.uk.com to see if we can help you get your plans off the ground! We are open Monday to Friday, 9 am – 5 pm!