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How to choose an accountant or bookkeeper

By Heather Jennings

2 min read

Your small business is growing and it’s time to outsource your finance management so you can run your company more efficiently. Here’s how to ensure you select the right professional who is suited to your business.

What’s right for your business?

Accountants offer vital services such as day-to-day bookkeeping and tax return management. They also advise on a range of issues including writing business plans and creating legal structures for businesses.

Think about where your business is at currently and what you will need help with in the coming years. Are you entering a growth period? If so, you might look at hiring an accountant who can provide insight on cash flow patterns, inventory management and business financing.

Would a bookkeeper be better suited to your business needs? Bookkeepers can assist with monitoring day-to-day expenses, invoicing, processing payroll and paying bills, and usually charge less than an accountant.

Once you know what services you need, draw up a contract that’s within budget. Find out from accountants and bookkeepers their fee structures and estimates on monthly costs to see if this fits in with what you can spend.

When you are happy with a pricing agreement, use online accounting software to track payments to your accountant or bookkeeper. This will make it easy for you to see everything that’s happening with your finances.

Industry knowledge

Consider whether you need an accountant or bookkeeper who has specific knowledge of your industry.

Whether you work in hospitality, retail or manufacturing, picking an accountant that has worked with other clients in your industry area will give them a better understanding of the financial complexities of your business.

Compatibility

When you hire an accountant or bookkeeper it will (hopefully) be a long lasting relationship.

While you might feel you get on personality-wise with your potential accountant or bookkeeper, it is smart to get an idea of what their working habits are.

Do you want someone you can ring at the drop of a hat, or are you happy to schedule weekly or monthly meetings in with them?

On the other hand, video conferencing might be the way you want to catch up if you regularly need to travel for work.

Float your expectations early on and only move forward if both parties are happy.

Interviewing candidates

You have found an accountant or bookkeeper who checks out on paper and you get along well with. But the interview stage is a great opportunity to really gauge how your potential professional will handle everyday business situations.

Give them problem scenarios that often pop up with your business and ask them to explain how they would handle them.

If they are able to provide past examples where they have solved certain problems, this will seal the deal for you in selecting them for the role.

Lastly, ensure you check references to see how your accountant has previously worked with clients.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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