As a business owner, all of us know the importance of a good accountant whether or not we employ one full time. For small and medium businesses, especially when the business owner himself or herself can’t afford the time to do certain tasks, accountants become extremely important to manage the financial operations of the business. With such a critical role, most of us wish for that one accountant who can do magic and make sense of your numbers and taxes without demanding too much from you. But just like the mythical unicorn, it can indeed be hard to find one who meets all your expectations.
So what makes a good and decent accountant? What are some of the qualities you must look for apart from the basic qualifications and experience? How should they help you with your business beyond just the number crunching? Here are some questions and insights that can help you derive the answers to the above questions and decide if you want to sign that contract to bring one on board.
A good accountant is one who will not hesitate to get their hands dirty by getting into all the details. Even if you are hiring one for a specific purpose such as tax filing, the accountant must spend at least a few hours with you or your staff to understand your specific situation before agreeing to help you. Once you move past the initial consultation stage, they will need to demand to go through your past filings, and financial records, the current year numbers and any other information that is required to do the job. Accountants aren’t needed to be ‘detail-oriented’ for no reason – they can do their job efficiently only if they are so. But do beware of ones who try to get you to do the entire job for them and just simply help with the final number preparations. You don’t want to be stuck as their assistants when you can figure out how to do the job if you dedicate a few hours to it.
Most, if not all accountants today use well-designed accounting software to complete their jobs. Some may even use much more advanced technology to automate routine tasks. They cannot do without one given the digital world we live in where most filings and paperwork exist online and are mandated to be submitted over the Internet. So it is assumed that the accountant must have already invested in such software to perform their core job. However, if your accountant speaks about buying additional software specifically only for your work, or doesn’t offer you any explanation of how/ why a new software might be required (with the respective charges), do think twice. Maybe, you should speak to a few more accountants in your area and see how they operate.
Whether you are a small or big business owner, all of us know the importance of maintaining the privacy of your financial status irrespective of whether you are doing very well or not so well. And sometimes it’s not just the financial status alone. During your relationship, you may be forced to reveal many of your business tactics and client engagement secrets as well to your accountants to help them understand your business well. Can the current accountant you are considering be trusted with such information? Is he working for a very close competitor? What is his reputation in the market? Make sure to find out the answers to these questions before you even consult with one. Do note that sometimes it does help to have an accountant who has done business with a company similar in nature to yours though not with a direct competitor.
An accountant needs to be as customer-friendly as a sales guy if not more! After all, you are going to be relying on them to do one of the most critical functions in your business – any mistake they make, even if it happens to be an honest one, can impact you big. So make sure your accountant is friendly and doesn’t hesitate to spend time with you to know your needs well. A good accountant must be willing to work with your juniors and other staff as well in your absence to extract the necessary information. If they are too rigid and demand that they speak only to management, or worse still that they work only on their allotted time, maybe you will need to explore more options.
Time is of the critical essence in most accounting affairs. After all, all business decisions are made only based on their financial viability. If your accountant delays one too many times, it’s time for you to reconsider the relationship. Accounting mastery is not only about following the timelines for taxation or form submissions but also about giving you back insights from your books on time so that your decisions are always accurate. There is no use in hiring an accountant who takes their own time to help you with your tasks.
These are but some of the basic questions that you need to ask before deciding whether you want to take on an accountant to help your business. Meanwhile, by using expense management and receipt scanner app such as NumReceipt to scan and keep track of your bills, physical or digital, you can always be well-prepared with all your financial details at any time. Pulling out expense data or income data will no more be a hassle and can be done at the touch of a button. This can not only relieve you of a great deal of stress but can save you (and your accountant when you hire one!) loads of time. So what are you waiting for? Do check out our app as you wait for the perfect accountant to show up.
5 Things That Every Accountant Should Know