Finding the right accountant

Discussion in 'Accounts & Finance' started by James M 1975, Jun 13, 2020.

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  1. James M 1975

    James M 1975 UKBF Newcomer

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    Hi all,
    I am in the process of setting up a coaching, leadership and culture development business, however I’m a little stuck finding the right accountant (it’s a minefield out there). Ideally I want someone who can both advise (sole trader/ltd company, invoicing etc), will submit end of year tax returns, has the correct accreditation and insurances etc, is easily contactable, has experience in my industry and ideally charges a fixed fee. If someone is able to point me in the right direction or is aware of someone/a company that fits the bill then it would be very much appreciated.
    Many thanks in advance
    James
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: James M 1975 Member since: Jun 13, 2020
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  2. mattk

    mattk UKBF Legend

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    Go and meet with a few. Most will give you a free initial consultancy where they'll talk you through company structure, tax, drawing money and anything else you might want to ask.

    Then go with the one you have the best rapport with.
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: mattk Member since: Dec 5, 2005
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  3. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Verified Business ✔️
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    Why?

    Industry experience is hardly relevant for an accountant who is basically interested in numbers and not the product.

    I can assure you that my accountant had no experience of the factoring industry which I didn't mind as I wasn't after factoring experience
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
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  4. gpietersz

    gpietersz Full Member

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    The first question is whether you want someone you can meet face to face, or would you happy to work with them entirely remotely?

    If the first, it has to be someone local, narrows the options. You can probably get some recommendations.

    Remote only? There are some people on here. You might find someone on places like freelancing websites.

    Check that anyone you use is a real accountant (anyone can call themselves one). They should be a member of an appropriate body (most likely ICAEW or ACCA) both of which have lists of member in public practice.

    Checking websites might sound a bit paranoid, but the last time the subject came up here we had someone who had been let down badly by an accountant, who did not know whether the accountant was a professional body, and one of the accountants here said that they had come across people falsely claiming to be members of a professional body.

    A bit off topic as its not true for the OP, but there are exceptions - very rare for UK SMEs to have those sorts of issues.
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  5. Stas Lawicki

    Stas Lawicki UKBF Big Shot

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    A mine field it is. I've had a couple - one was a partner from a big London firm and he was hopeless. Another from a not so big firm charged a fortune and cocked up and number of my wife's returns (which were totally unnecessary and consequently meant her tax situation become extremely complicated and we needed up with a big bill). My current one I shopped around for. Met a few local folk in my town, discussed the usual and how they work etc. Asked some questions about particular scenarios and I've found a great little firm who are good value, easy to get hold of the one or two times a year I need them and nice to deal with.

    I would speak to a few and work out who you might get on with. Ask your mates for a recommendation too if you can.
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: Stas Lawicki Member since: Nov 14, 2017
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  6. faradaykeynes

    faradaykeynes Verified Business ✔️

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    Feel free to call me if you like, when you say advise both (sole trader/ltd company), I hope you are looking to take one route and not run both together, same trade same resources, HMRC wont be happy about it
     
    Posted: Jun 13, 2020 By: faradaykeynes Member since: Apr 19, 2012
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  7. UK Contractor Accountant

    UK Contractor Accountant Verified Business ✔️

    5,491 1,029
    I think you mean should you set up as sole trader or a Ltd company?

    Its a common question for someone setting up a business but the general advice is initially trade as a sole trader and then transfer to a Ltd company once the business has a firm footing and generating a reasonable profit level.

    In any case discuss with your appointed accountant & taxation advisor. As above the Accountancy Professional Bodies websites will have a list of firms which you can search.

    Generally recommendations is the way to go when looking for an Accountancy Practice.

    There a few of us on here who regularly contribute and provide good a advice.
     
    Posted: Jun 14, 2020 By: UK Contractor Accountant Member since: Sep 18, 2013
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  8. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend

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    The time you need a accountant is when the local one is only ten mins away and if they dont answer the phone you can go around and get it sorted,

    Online ones come in all varieties some good some bad all probably cheaper

    I always found the local accountants who were chartered filled my needs and a few quid extra was worth while, they also had contacts in the local area who they might give a introduction to without disclosing anything about them
     
    Posted: Jun 14, 2020 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
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  9. Philip Hoyle

    Philip Hoyle UKBF Legend

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    Costs vary enormously. I've seen some pretty steep bills from book-keepers and unqualified accountants that are far higher than an average fully qualified local sole trader accountant would charge. So, I don't think you can say all online ones would be cheaper.

    But I also don't think there's any distinction any more between "local" versus "online". Most "local" firms will now also offer online software support, email communications, secure portals for document exchange/approval etc. I think you'll find most "local" firms offer the same as online firms, with the added benefit of being "local" in the rare occurrence you do need a meeting for anything.
     
    Posted: Jun 14, 2020 By: Philip Hoyle Member since: Apr 3, 2007
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  10. Rawlinson Pryde

    Rawlinson Pryde UKBF Regular

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    One thing I would ask is if the firm does all of it’s work in the UK. There seems to be a growing trend to send it off to Asia for cheap labour but still charge normal prices.
     
    Posted: Jun 14, 2020 By: Rawlinson Pryde Member since: May 9, 2020
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  11. gpietersz

    gpietersz Full Member

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    Good point. Someone told me about their accounting doing that not long ago.

    Does it matter, as long as someone qualified in the UK is taking responsibility? Is it any different from partner getting juniors or people with lower level qualifications to do the work?
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  12. atmosbob

    atmosbob UKBF Legend

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    While it might be reassuring to have an accountant who is a member of a trade body that is no protection for you if they are no good. My local newspaper frequently has stories of accountants ending up in court with fraud charges. I will always use someone locally I can interview face to face.
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: atmosbob Member since: Oct 26, 2009
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  13. Rawlinson Pryde

    Rawlinson Pryde UKBF Regular

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    True, however it may be more likely that there are language or understanding issues not being in the same country, not to mention you may not know if the sub-contracted staff are being trained to a satisfactory standard, as you have less control and knowledge of over them. I also think that there are GDPR issues if you are not communicating if you are not using your firm to carry out the work.

    I think these firms should be transparent as if you think you offer the same service as a totally UK based business then what have you got to hide.

    We as a firm think it is better for the client to be able to interact with all members of the team that look after them (at varying levels) and can see the face of the person they interact with, even if they do not necessarily meet them.
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: Rawlinson Pryde Member since: May 9, 2020
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  14. SteveHa

    SteveHa UKBF Legend

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    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Membership of a PB is not necessarily a sign of competence. You only have to read through the ICAEW disciplinary reports to see that.

    And, of course, many very competent accountants resign membership of their PB, seeing them as offering little value.
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: SteveHa Member since: Jun 16, 2016
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  15. Rawlinson Pryde

    Rawlinson Pryde UKBF Regular

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    Yes a very tiny percentage. Also you know that there are some standards and repercussions.

    There is nothing that guarantees competence, but at least holding a qualification guarantees some form of training has been undertaken and they should have undertaken their CPD.

    Someone without a qualification doesn’t really show any form of competence.
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: Rawlinson Pryde Member since: May 9, 2020
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  16. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Verified Business ✔️
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    Understandable as turkeys rarely vote for Christmas :D
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
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  17. Khushal Joshi

    Khushal Joshi UKBF Newcomer

    2 3
    Hi James M,

    Hope you are well. Picking the right accountant is always a tough choice and you never really know what they're like until you start working with them.

    I have an Accountancy practice and work with a lot of small businesses.

    I'd be happy to have a no obligations call with you to chat through your scenario.

    Thanks

    Khushal
    Effective Accounting Ltd
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: Khushal Joshi Member since: May 26, 2020
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  18. gpietersz

    gpietersz Full Member

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    I agree. Some evidence of competence vs none. I would definitely avoid an unqualified accountant.

    They need to do their CPD to keep their practising certificate, right?
     
    Posted: Jun 15, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  19. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend

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    Naturally the non accredited members who screw up are never recorded so how do you compare the two numbers. you're reports how failures are in a highly regulated environment, so presumably in a totally unregulated area the reports if they existed would be far higher
     
    Posted: Jun 16, 2020 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
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  20. MyAccountantOnline

    MyAccountantOnline Full Member

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    Industry experience can actually be incredibly important, in fact I'd say essential for some trades and professions, and it's why you'll see accountants who specialise in looking after the tax and accounting affairs of certain professions. Often it'll be professions that have specific accounting requirements or who are subject to special tax rules.

    It can also be very useful to understand the clients business as some will for example use and need industry specific accounting software.
     
    Posted: Jun 16, 2020 By: MyAccountantOnline Member since: Sep 24, 2008
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