What should I look for in an accountant?

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Whether you’re a contracting veteran looking to take more control of your career, or you’re a newbie ready to go straight down the limited route, you’ll soon realise you need a specialist accountant to help navigate your way around tax and other regulations. But with so many out there, how do you choose the right one?

To help lighten the load, we’ve put together a few tips and pointers to consider when choosing the perfect accountant:

1. Look for expertise in your sector

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There’s no point trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, so why go to an accountant that only works with IT professionals* if you’re an expert in engineering? There’s no one size fits all solution to accounting, so it’s a good idea to seek out somebody who knows your industry inside and out.

You should also think about the type of clients the accountant works with. If they’re more used to dealing with large corporates, they may not be the best people to help you as a limited company contractor.

*If you do happen to be an IT Contractor, IT Contractor Accountants have a handy checklist that you can use when talking to prospective accountants.

2. Find a tailored service

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As well as choosing an accountant with experience in your sector, it’s also a good idea to seek out someone who can tailor their offering to suit your individual needs. Take the time to find a provider who can meet your own requirements so you know you’re receiving a truly personal service.

You should also think about choosing a company that offers a dedicated personal accountant. This will help you build a strong relationship and won’t make you feel like you’re being passed from pillar to post.

3. Think about value for money - we don’t just mean the cheapest!

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While some accountants claim to offer a flat-rate service, they might end up stinging you with hidden charges later down the line. Providers that offer fixed fees are a safe bet, as you can budget a set amount every month – perfect if you have a new business.

Other things to look out for are long-term contracts and companies that tempt you with lots of services - you’re unlikely to need them all, but might end up being charged for the privilege.

Before you start shopping, it might be a good idea to make a list of your requirements. You’d be surprised how many people start off with good intentions then get swayed by sales speak.

4. When will you need to speak to them?

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As a busy contractor, you’ll often struggle to visit a high street accountant during normal working hours. As a result, an abundance of online-only firms have set up shop recently – but is this route right for you?

After all, technology’s great, but the lack of human touch can sometimes be frustrating – unexpected item in the bagging area anyone? It’s therefore a good idea to look for a happy medium – an online portal coupled with a personal, tailored service. That way you’ll know that help is never more than a phone call away.

5. Think about the future

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If you’re a newbie contractor, getting to grips with accountancy may seem like a terrifying prospect. However, you may be more willing to take on additional responsibility a few months down the line.

On the other hand, you may find that as your business grows, the amount of assistance you require increases too. Either way, opting for an accountant that offers a full range of packages with lots of flexibility might just save you the headache of switching in the long run.

6. Qualifications are really important

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Like with builders, you don’t want a cowboy accountant, especially when it’s your money and business at stake. Accountants should hold an accreditation with a professional body, as this will give you an extra bit of confidence that you can trust and rely on them in times of need.

Need more help?

We hope we’ve been able to give you more insight into the important points to consider when choosing an accountant. If you need a bit more guidance, help is at hand.

We’ve got lots more advice on our website, or you could also get in touch with our expert team on 0800 032 5326 or email enquiry@clearskyaccounting.co.uk.

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