Spending the time to find the right accountant is immensely important. The right accountant will become a trusted partner and has the potential to take your business forward in ways that you never considered possible.

Here’s a simple checklist to help you choose and get the most from your accountant…

First of all, define what services you are looking for and what you are trying to achieve not only in the short term but for the longer term too.

Fixed Fees – Some accountants charge by the hour or charge a monthly retainer. Make sure you get a fixed fee for your work or a fee that they won’t go beyond without your agreement, this will ensure that fees do not become an issue in the relationship. Budgeting is easier when you know what you are being charged and that is limited, spreading the payments over a couple of months smooths everyone’s cash flow.

Don’t base your decision on price alone, choosing the cheapest is not always the best approach. An accountant who charges more for their services, may be bringing a whole lot more experience to the table.

Planning for growth – the majority of accountants offer tax and auditing services but do they offer strong management information, bookkeeping, payroll services, estate planning and advice on financial and accounting software? Have they expertise in all stages of growth to contribute to your business’s development. Have they experience within your industry?

Don’t assume that the biggest is always best, many large practices work in a standard way across all clients. Every business is unique, ensure you choose an accountant that is flexible, has time to spend with you and can tailor to your business requirements.

Chartered or not – Accountants are regulated by professional bodies and Chartered Accountants are highly qualified professionals with a great amount of experience and knowledge. Not all accounting practices require a Chartered Accountant but you will need the experience of one for business growth and more complex work. In addition, having a Chartered Accountant who is also a Business Advisor will give you the expertise to further develop your business.

Is location important – As technology advances, the accountancy world is also evolving, for many years, traditionally, an accountant had to be on your doorstep. But in today’s world, with cloud based technology you can share data with your accountant in real-time. Communication through email, Skype, phone calls, secure accounting software has transformed the world of accounting. You could potentially work with anyone here or abroad.

On the other side, some businesses would be much happier with face to face contact and handing their receipts over in a traditional box. Both ways are absolutely fine, just know what works best for you.

SLA – Always agree fixed timescales when work will be done and get them to guarantee it so there’s not hidden expectations leading to disappointment on both sides of the relationship.

Do you like them? – Pricing, experience, location, references are important but do you like them? What does your gut say? You need to find someone you like and trust, a good accountant is going to be like a life partner, having intimate knowledge of your finances. You must like them. Ask pertinent questions of how you will work together.

Free Consultation – take full advantage of any free consultation that many accountants suggest. It’s such a great way to improve your knowledge and generate good ideas.