Getting the most out of your accountant - Business Works
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Getting the most out of your accountant

Martin Crook, Partner, Adams Moore Whilst the recessionary impact on businesses has been varied, there are few that will have come out unscathed in recent years. Whether it has necessitated a market diversification, job cuts or changing of client or supplier terms in order to tighten and improve cash flow, most businesses have had to change in one way or another.

In light of this, many providers of professional services have had to tailor their offering in response to the changing business landscape. One area where this is demonstrable is accountancy services. Itís a common denominator of business Ė everyone needs accountancy services, but this area has changed significantly in recent years. Forward-thinking Practices will have adapted their services to meet the new demands of businesses in these cautious times. End-of-year accounts, payroll and audit are still vital functions, but a broader outlook on the whole area has become crucial.

a bad decision about a new customer or supplier can do serious harm to a business

Higher-support packages to provide growing companies with an additional support tier, or the benefit of a Financial Director without having to hire one, have become popular in offering and take-up, as have protection services. A precarious trading environment has forced many businesses to look at seriously protecting themselves by making additional checks to be sure those who they choose to do business with are financially sound, in order to reduce business risk. Scrutinising customers and suppliers has become the norm and accountants are responding to this by providing thorough check and tracking services. A bad decision when it comes to a new customer or supplier can do some serious harm to a business, so itís an area which has seen significant growth.

Accountants also seem to be the first port of call when it comes to sourcing other professional services such as financial advisers on issues including employee pensions. This is a responsibility that accountants hold and therefore are increasingly making links with associates to ensure they can refer their clients to a reputable provider, with complete peace of mind.

how to get the most from your accountant

Despite the endless ways in which businesses can make their accountancy function really work for them, many are put off by the perceived cost of a meter running when asking for advice. Itís often not the case and many offer cost-effective fixed-fee services so businesses can plan their finances and make the most of the service without worrying about an escalating bill.

An accountant should the best friend of any company. Hereís how to select the best and then get the most from yours:

  • Have a pre-determined idea of the services you require, to ensure the offering is tailored to your needs;
  • Negotiate on price and ascertain if itís fixed. Make sure you have more than one quote and donít be afraid to ask for a detailed breakdown;
  • Donít be afraid to ask for a document that details the quality of the service you will get and make sure the accountant sticks to it;
  • Ask what value added services the accountant will bring to your business;
  • Do they speak in plain English? Make sure youíre not blinded by jargon by insisting on a 'laymanís terms' explanation;
  • Review the service you get regularly and feel free to speak openly about how your accountant can be more supportive;
  • Ask if your accountant can provide accounting software. Better book keeping makes everyoneís life easier and is a vital tool in assessing the business success and direction on an on-going basis;
  • Ensure you understand everything you need to do for your accountant.

The above checklist should avoid any future confusion over service areas, whatís included and whatís expected on both sides.

Martin Crook is a Partner at Adams Moore - for more information, please visit:

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