There can be many factors which will sway your decision-making process when looking for a local accountant and from word-of-mouth recommendations to internet searches, finding the right one to suit you can often be a slightly bewildering task.
Best advice is not to consider cheaper as being necessarily better and if you have plans to save money then make sure you do your homework first before you get into any binding contracts.
5 Accountant Cost-Factors to Remember
1. VAT policy – it’s always good practice to research an accountant’s value added tax policy and to see whether it suits your own tax status. Smaller and individual firms are more likely not to be VAT-registered and these can be a better option for someone who’s looking for an accountant and aren’t registered for VAT either. Larger firms and other accountancy agents which are VAT-registered will be more inclined to suit customers who are also registered so it’s certainly worth bearing in mind when making your initial decisions based around tax.
2. Initial Consultations – as with most services, having an initial ‘getting to know you’ meeting is common practice and it would probably be quite naïve to think that all accountants are going to be the same. This sort of primary consultation will give you the chance to ask questions and find out more about your potential accountant’s credentials and expertise although you probably won’t find out too much more at these early stages. In most cases, a first meeting is free of charge however, if an accountant does want you to pay for his time, it’s always worth finding out what you are going to get in return.
3. Payment Terms – after you’ve had an initial-consultation, free or otherwise, it’s time to put pen to paper and get down to the business of saving you money. An accountant will charge for their services like any other service provider which is why it’s necessary to find out the terms under which payments will be made and taken. If it’s possible to organise a credit agreement, whereupon you can have some breathing space to pay a monthly or one off invoice, then make sure your accountant agrees prior to them doing any work. Remember that they’re supposed to be saving you money and alleviating financial strains so it should be in their, and your, best interests to make the payment process as painless as possible.
4. Payment Consistency – once you’ve ascertained whether you’ll be able to get a form of accountancy credit initiated it’s then probable that you’ll want to know the terms of regular invoicing. Find out whether payments can be paid via direct debit or whether you need to pay as a one off fee. There’s no point walking blindly into a financial situation and expecting invoices to be regular and consistently the same amount. Accountants often work with several different clients and although they’ll do their best to be consistent in their approach, some months may cost more than others so make sure you know how much and when invoices need to be met.
5. Incentives – as mentioned, accountants will normally have several customers to deal with at any one time. Best advice to ensure they certainly put your finances at the top of the pile is to undertake some sort of bonus or reward scheme. This can be met through prior agreement and work around your accountant receiving a cash reward when they’ve saved you, for example: above and beyond the savings that you’d hoped for. Make sure you get any bonus schemes in writing first so you and your accountant both know where you stand.