Choosing an Accountant
For contractors juggling busy work schedules, complex contracts and irregular payments, good accountants can be worth their weight in gold. Whether you are just starting out as a freelancer or if you’re an experienced contractor who’s dissatisfied with the service you’re currently receiving, we share our top tips on what to look for and the questions you must ask when choosing an accountant.
Consider a specialist contractor accountant
As legislation around contracting becomes ever more complicated (IR35, anyone?), the ability to hire an accountant who is a specialist in these matters and deals with clients with businesses similar to yours is an increasingly attractive prospect. This is especially the case if your contracts are particularly complex.
A specialist accountant will also be more likely to keep up to date with changes to legislation that are specific to contractors.
Get recommendations from other contractors
There’s no greater advertisement than a satisfied customer, so ask around other contractors to see if anyone can recommend an accountant. If their business and workload is similar to yours, and they have seen benefits from the accountant’s service, there’s a good chance you will too.
Check their experience and credentials
Experience is not just about how long they have been an accountant. It’s also about whether they have familiarity with businesses like yours. Also investigate their qualifications and their membership of professional bodies.
Ask about costs upfront
There are many things to consider when hiring an accountant, and cost is one of the most important. Does your accountant charge fixed fees or are you billed at an hourly rate? A fixed fee is usually more transparent and allows you to plan your financial services into your annual budget.
If you pay by the hour you may find yourself being charged for simple things such as when you phone to discuss a query. On the other hand, a fixed fee package may be overkill if you only need very simple accounts and won’t be seeking advice regularly – check what’s included and don’t pay for things you don’t need.
Timing is everything
It might be that you are happy with only being able to contact your accountant in normal office hours, but if you yourself often work odd hours or sometimes find yourself with a pressing query over the weekend, availability may be a factor in your decision.
See if they have an online platform where you can access your accounts or if they are able to help remotely out of office hours.
Proximity and communication
Are they local enough to meet you face-to-face, or are you happy with a remote service? If you prefer to communicate either by phone or by email, is your accountant happy to correspond in this way? If you have a query, how quickly can you expect a response?
Some questions to ask:
- Can you put me in touch with a client similar to me for a reference?
- What am I entitled to that I don’t know about?
- What common problems do you see from people in my industry, and how do you solve them?
- How will you make sure that I never miss a financial deadline?
- What else do I need to know, but haven’t asked?
Choosing an accountant is an important decision, and one that we think you should take time over – just like choosing your business insurance. You can find out all about Kingsbridge’s specialised package tailored to the needs of contractors and freelancers by visiting our website. And if you want to ask us any tricky questions, just give us a call on 01242 808740. We’d love to help.