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  • #981338
    RustySS
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    Hello All

    Very glad I joined this forum as it is full of excellent advice.

    Something I have been looking for advice on, but can’t seem to find anything so far is how to select the right accountant for my business. I have some initial meetings next week with some accountants (some I contacted thanks to the FS directory).

    Can anyone suggest questions I should be asking in the initial meeting? I’m looking to get an accountant that will really help me drive my business forward rather than just doing the book work.

    Any help is appreciated.

    #1129618
    James Millar
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    If it’s not a referral from a trusted third party then perhaps ask for some case studies of their previous work.

    Ask if they have a fixed fee solution that specifies clearly what’s included and what’s excluded (ie hour many support hours are provided etc) – otherwise you can expect regular bills for communications.

    Don’t focus too much on cost – in our profession you really get what you pay for and selecting the cheapest option may prove more expensive in the long run. If you genuinely want your accountants to help drive your business on a more protracted basis then understand that there is a cost associated with them delivering that value (but the value should exceed the cost). Regular meetings and analysis are not part of a normal compliance engagement (some expect they are).

    Above all try and get a sense of their style, personality, business core values and culture. If you consider them a long term business partner then you must enjoy working with them and you must have a solid relationship.

    As an example here is our client core value statement

    360 Partners Client Core Values
    – To enjoy contributing to the success of our clients
    – To act in the best interests of our clients
    – To maintain mutually respectful relationships to produce win win outcomes.

    The last value is very important. We don’t work “for clients” but rather we work “with clients”. Without mutual respect of each other’s requirements then it just doesn’t work.

    Helping build better businesses and better lives with expert financial and taxation advice. [email protected] www.360partners.com.au 03 9005 4900
    #1129619
    Chris Brodie
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    I agree with everything James has said above. I always ask new clients who have transferred from a previous accountant why they decided to move on. I’m generally astonished at the answers I receive at times. The answers range from –

    • My previous accountant was not contactable, didn’t return phone calls, emails etc.
    • Previous accountant simply “number crunched” but was not proactive in anyway in providing advice re. Structuring of business, growing the business, tax minimisation, etc.
    • Client felt that the previous accountant simply didn’t care about them or their business; client felt that they were just a number.
    • Previous accountant charged ridiculously for every little phone call/email

    Like James said, a really good accountant is not cheap and you do get what you pay for. However, they should add real value to your business. A good accountant is worth their weight in gold (somewhat biased, I know).

    Meeting with a few accountants is a good idea so you can get a “feel” for how they operate and where they fit in with your business, not how you will fit into the accountants business. You’ll know after meeting your list of accountants which one/s you feel you could work with, which one you think would add real value to your business and which one you feel could become a trusted business partner. If this all points to one person then I think you’ve found your accountant. Good luck with your search.

    #1129620
    Jodie McLeod
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    Hi Rusty SS,

    Welcome to the Flying Solo forums!

    Choosing the right accountant can be tricky, but thankfully one of our contributors Heather Smith wrote an article for this very purpose – which should help you out.

    Best of luck, and I look forward to seeing you around online!

    Jodie

    #1129621
    Redlands Accounting
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    • Total posts: 53
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    Hi RustySS

    I think the most important thing that you should look for in your accountant is contactablilty and approachability. You need to be able to ring your accountant when you have a question, no matter how trivial the question may seem. If you get in answered it is one less thing on your mind to worry about. You need to feel that you can approach him or her for advice and that they are interested in your business. If you feel awkward, look elsewhere.

    A good accountant can save you lots of money so although it is tempting to price shop, price does not necessarily indicate how good an accountant is.

    I hope you find someone who works well with you in your business.

    #1129622
    RustySS
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    Thank you all so much for your help and references. I feel much better prepared for my meetings next week.

    I am more than happy to pay good money for good service, and the advice given about getting on well and not feeling awkward around my accountant is excellent. Thank you for that.

    I may have hit a good thing, as one of the accountants I contacted has a personal hobby interest in my industry. Some understanding of what I’m trying to achieve will be advantageous as its a very niche industry.

    Thank you all again.

    #1129623
    PRO
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    Hi Rusty
    Welcome

    I agree with all said. Price wise, I think a good model is ones that are not cheap on the fees they charge for work and services they provide etc, but you can ring them with quick questions for a chat and they don’t charge you.

    Just my 2 cents and sure you won’t have a problem finding someone on here.

    D

    #1129624
    Divert To Mobile
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    Hi Rusty,

    Welcome to the forum.
    In my opinion price is secondary, when dealing with any person or business approachability is key. Someone who will listen to you and disagree with your opinion or idea in a calm and professional manner is more important than saving a few hundred dollars a year.

    Steve

    #1129625
    Shaukat Adam Khalid
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    I wrote the stuff below the dotted line and then realised i don’t know anything about situation or what you mean by “Driving the business forward”. I Also don’t what you are willing to put in (not just money) to get the accountant’s respect.

    yes, clients are discriminated according to their average spend and business acumen. A smart accountant isn’t just looking for a client. the idea is future business deals. that’s where the real pay off comes ie creating wealth and not just revenue.

    Talk to at least 5 accountants and ask them “why should i do business with you over any and every available option”.

    If they tell you that they have great service, price and quality. ask them to elaborate. Examples of great service? ask them about their value proposition. what does a business relationship mean to them? you have an internal BS detector. Use it,

    I don’t think accounts should be easily available. A good accountant is in demand and also has a life. Hard to believe, but underneath their stiff suit & tie, they are humans just like us ;)

    Good luck


    Here’s what i would ask:

    1. what’s the difference between strategy and tactic?

    2. what can you do to help me generate predictable revenue and a scalable business?

    3. Can you help me with fund raising like the big firms? what about sourcing team members to help me grow?

    4. How do you monitor the progress of my business? What kind of metrics do you deem critical. Why?

    5. Are you able to help me or refer me to someone who can draft a marketing strategy that produces tangible and measurable results?

    6. Do you have expertise in turnaround strategy? What is the average turnaround time and cost excluding outlays?

    7. Are you a business advisor? What does that really mean? To what extent can you help me? What are the things you cannot assist me with and who can?

    8. What is the average and median turnover of your client base. This will give you an indication of when it’s time to move on to another accountant or not to choose them at all in the first place.

    9. How do you manage risk and leverage innovation at the same time?

    Now, i will admit that some of these questions cannot be answered even by CPAs and CAs but their answers will reveal their business acumen, kind of network they have and separate the propeller heads from entrepreneurs.

    You will also note that i did not ask anything about structure, SMSF, etc A good accountant should already know that. You should also be doing your homework. If you want to be treated seriously by any advisor (even your doctor), learn the basic e.g 3 financial statements, types of ratios & other metrics, business lingo, etc

    Don’t palm things off to your advisor. They are there to do stuff you don’t have the time to do but you should have some working knowledge to gain respect and priority in their eyes.

    An accountant is considered the most influential among all professionals. A good accountant will go well beyond their core service. They will be entrepreneurial, sending you articles and material on business growth, introducing you to people in their network or at least fellow clients, etc

    Be prepared to pay at least $250 / hr or per project. There is a very real possibility that you will have to cycle through a few accountants to get one that suits you. This applies to all professionals.


    #1129626
    akagrp
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    Great Question Rusty , Khalid very good questions to ask

    Agree with above posts, in our profession you do pay for what you get.

    What I would add to the equation, make sure your accountant works with you the way that is suitable and complimentary to both of you. Our profession the past few years has moved to Fixed Price Up Front and that is great for both the client and accountant as no surprises and ill feelings come bill time. But at the same time make sure that the services provided meet your size and way of doing business and not just the accountants

    Also a question to ask if it is an issue to you, where and who has access to your data, and if they are based at the clients office, interstate or overseas.

    Good luck

    #1129627
    slh
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    Sound advice from James Millar and Chris Brodie.

    Do NOT skimp on a good accountant.

    In my finance practice, when I am dealing with turnarounds, 2 common things show up:
    1. the business owner didn’t understand his/her financials
    2. the financials are wrong!

    And until the financials are fixed, the banks aren’t interested in having a discussion about providing further support. Wrong time to incur more expenses getting the accounts fixed at that time, given all the other demands on cash flow at that critical point!

    Cheers,

    Siu Ling

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