questions to ask your accountant
News, Tax & Accounting

What To Expect From Your Accountant

When it comes to finding a modern accountant (or any other service provider for that matter), there are a few sets of criteria that we often turn to. Perhaps you’re looking for someone close to your home, someone affordable, or you’d like someone who has been referred to you by a friend. In the accounting world, it’s not uncommon for the younger generation to simply follow in the footsteps of their parents by adopting the same accountant their parents have been with for many years. Having a long-standing relationship with your accountant can be a great thing, as it allows you to build trust.

However, as the years change, so too does the accounting industry (like most), and with it comes new legislation, new technologies and new standards of service delivery. Like a domino effect, this then leads to a new set of expectations you should be placing upon your accountant.

Choosing the wrong accountant could have a negative impact on your business, the amount of tax you pay, and your cash flow. As different industries have different tax rules, it may be beneficial to choose an accountant that has some experience in the field you operate in. However, a good accountant will keep abreast with specific industry requirements and any legislation changes. It’s not uncommon for accounting firms to offer a complimentary consultation to new clients before they decide to move forward, so during this consultation is a good time to get a feel for an accountant’s experience and how it relates to your needs.

Over the years there has been a shift in the type of advice you should expect to receive from your accountant. Gone are the days that you would visit your accountant’s office once per year to receive reactive advice from what is now seen as an “old-school accountant”. Relationships between clients and their accountant have become much less transactional, with it becoming more of a partnership.

Modern accountants can be seen as an extension of your team; they get to know your business, your goals and your challenges. Rather than use historical data to provide reactive advice, their focus is on using the past, present and the future (through business and cash-flow forecasting) to provide proactive advice that helps your business grow.

Modern Accountants are tech savvy; this provides customers with much more flexibility than perhaps they’ve been used to in the past. Instead of finding the time to visit your accountant’s office around busy schedules, you can now meet with your accountant from the comfort of your own home (via video call services such as zoom), over the phone – or if you prefer a more traditional approach, from their office. By providing greater flexibility around appointments, this allows you to meet more regularly (if desired), to build rapport.

Modern Accountants embrace cloud technology, allowing real-time data processing and analysis, increasing productivity, and improving accountant-to-client communication. The financial data you need to make decisions about your business (and quickly) is right at your fingertips, whether you’re in the office, at home, or on holiday.

This modern approach to processing and storing your data also provides greater data security. While some accountants still prefer a paper trail, this is now seen as not only an outdated approach, but also a security risk. In a world where hackers are becoming more cunning, not having personal accounting data stored on drives or held in a paper filing system is becoming increasingly desirable to clients.

Through automation, modern accountants are also reducing the chance of human errors, which can sometimes occur during high volume data input tasks. If you’re wondering if technology is starting to replace accountants, the answer is no. It simply allows those who are adopting it to work smarter, not harder. This productivity gain is then seen by clients in the form of more regular communication, and more time spent on really getting to know your business.

Wondering if your current Accountant is meeting the mark?

If you’ve been with the same accountant for some time, you may have become unclear on what the current expectations you should have really are.

To help you find the right accountant for your needs, here are some example tasks you can and should expect your accountant to be able to assist you with in 2023:

  • Providing general tax advice, including processing your tax return while ensuring all appropriate deductions are claimed.
  • Advice around starting a business: This includes advice and assistance on setting up business structures, tax planning and financial reporting commitments.
  • Proactive advice to help grow your business: Your accountant should know your business well enough to spot opportunities to improve cash flow and boost profits. They should also be able to identify and solve problems. They may also suggest operational changes you can make to improve your business. A good accountant will be just as invested in your success as you are as the business owner.
  • Up-to-date legislation advice and industry knowledge: Your accountant should have a continual approach to personal development, attending training and/or seminars to ensure they are always up-to-date and offering accurate advice.

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