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Ask These Questions Before Hiring an Accountant for Your Small Business

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Business is all about people’s skills but you certainly can’t do well without numbers. Whether you are own a small business or a big one, keeping track of numbers is downright essential.

 Maintaining the records, understanding the current market, managing the taxes, and making some accurate projections for the future is the crux of your growth. And that’s where an accountant comes into the picture. They will handle the numbers so that you focus on your customers and the quality of services you offer. 

Before you hand over the bookkeeping of your small business to a professional, make sure the person is qualified enough to do it. Ask these questions before hiring bookkeeping and accounting services for your business. Whether you own a clothing apparel store or an online furniture website, get these questions answered to make informed decisions.

Determine Your Accounting Needs First!

Start within. Delegating bookkeeping after you have determined your accounting needs is the right way to go. There is a big variation in what different businesses need and what the accountants offer. 

Do you need an accountant for specific services? Or do you require a person who will manage every aspect of accounting? Is your company aspiring to reach international customers? Ask questions about the scope of prospective accounting firms. 

What you need to remember is that not all bookkeepers are created equal and your accounting needs are also subject to change.

Do You Have Any References?

Conduct interviews with the prospective accountants. Owing to the current pandemic, virtual meetings are the new norm. One of the most important questions you must ask is about references. Are there any reliable references? Can you get in touch with any of them and discuss the quality of work they are getting? 

You need to hear from other companies. If a company is hesitant to provide any references, your conversation with them should be a short one.

What Are Your Qualifications?

Some bookkeepers are generalists while others are specialists. Ask about their qualifications and request proofs. It’s easier to check their legal compliance with accounting bodies these days. All you need is a good internet connection and a working laptop.

Some accountants only hold a diploma while others have earned accounting degrees. In the UK the minimum qualification you need to have is AAT but if you need a chartered accountant, you need a person with ACCA, ACA, or CIMA.

How Do You Communicate with Your Clients?

The communication skills of an accountant are very important. Processing the day-to-day transactions in your accounting software needs regular communication, especially in the first few months of workings together. 

Time is money. Ineffective communications can slow down the process and you don’t want that for your business. Ask about how they normally communicate with their clients. If you are outsourcing, language barrier can turn out to be a major hindrance. Look into it. 

Who Will Actually Handle the Accounts?

If you are dealing with a person who is directly going to handle your accounts, it’s easy to assess the scope of their accounting work. Most small business owners prefer working with a single person who will handle their accounts. If that’s the case, ask about their backup plans.

If you are planning to work with a firm, ask them to connect you to the person who will do the work for your business. Don’t forget to ask about their quality control methods and internal review procedures.

What Are Your Fees and What Do They Include?

How will the prospective bookkeeper charge for their services? Do they have hourly or monthly rates? Most accountants charge with a fixed rate. Inquire about the services included in the fixed rates. Having thorough conversations at the beginning will help you avoid inconveniences later.

While you are hunting for the most affordable services, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.  

Will You Examine My Current Accounting System?

Examining the current accounting system used by your business is essential for identifying the mistakes. Ask them if they can do it for you? The findings can help you see how the accountant is improving your business over time.

How Familiar Are They with Your Industry?

Each industry is unique and so are its challenges. If you are outsourcing bookkeeping services for the first time, it’s best to find a professional who has worked with your industry previously. Although it is not the only way to go and sometimes all you need is a new perspective for making the most of your investment, you can always count on familiarity.

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