“A business should ensure that the accountant it uses is a professional, that is, a chartered accountant. This gives the basic assurance that the accountant complies with the requirements of the qualifying body, and keeps up to date with current regulations and accounting practice,” advises Barry Franklin, principal at Rhodes Franklin Consulting.
He believes that the best way to find a good accountant is through recommendation. Ask other business owners or directors, particularly if they are in the same or a similar field. If they are happy with their accountant, then there is a good chance that you may be too, both in cost and competence.
If this is not an option then Franklin recommends that you could start with the website of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). This gives a wealth of information about what accountants do and what you should expect of them. The site also has a section on selecting an accountant and the type of questions you should be asking them.
Another of the Institute’s sites, www.icaewfirms.co.uk, gives online access to the official ICAEW Directory of Firms with verified information on over 23,000 offices of member firms worldwide. You can search by firm name, location, the specific accountancy skills, the industry or market you are in, or simply the chartered accountant nearest to your postcode.
As for the cost, this can vary greatly. Bookkeepers tend to charge from £15 to £30 an hour, largely depending on their overheads, although a number of other factors can influence this. The accountant will charge considerably more, but may be used less frequently, for example, for putting together the accounts at the year end.
“If an accounting software programme is used, the procedure may be simplified by sending the set of accounts to the accountant electronically. The fees will then depend upon such factors as the size of the company, the complexity of the work, how the books have been maintained during the year, and the extent to which management advice is required and provided,’ adds Franklin.
Each fortnight, our newsletter ‘businessGO’ features small business tips, advice, hot links and breaking news. If you would like to see a question featured, or keep up to date with the latest business tips, signup for businessGO by clicking here.