Choosing an Accountant

Do you really Need an Accountant?
With the development in technology, computers and easy to use software, many people ask themselves – “Do I really need an accountant?” If you are a business owner and have reasonable experience in accounting, bookkeeping and other financial disciplines, you may be tempted to try to get by without having an accountant or a qualified financial person to help you. Your business needs may be simple e.g the completion of tax returns and wages, etc., so you may be able to cope by using basic software readily available on the market today.

There is plenty of accounting software available from companies such as Quicken, Microsoft, and others and many business owners use this to keep track of their business operation, carry out their bookkeeping and organise their finances. If you are in business and feel comfortable and experienced enough with keeping your own books, then you’ll probably find an accountant is required only on an occasional basis.

Most of your business day to day needs can be easily handled by you. When business matters arise which are a little bit more complex and require a professional that may be the time to find an accountant to assist you.

However, as a business owner, you need to be careful that in your effort to reduce costs you do yourself a disservice by not getting professional advice on areas that do require a little more expertise that what most business owners possess.

Good Accountants are Multi-talented
Accountants can assist with many basic decisions such as calculating the figures to arrive at whether to buy or lease a business vehicle, should equipment should be purchased now or later, how does depreciation affects some purchases by the business, how will the new tax laws affect the business and should it make changes to provide for that.

" A professional should always be consulted before closing the deal ..."

Should the business change its structure so a sole trader becomes a company for the advantages that brings, should the acquisition of another company for sale in the same field be investigated, should the company invest its funds rather than have the surplus cash sit in its bank account.

These and many other questions generally require a professional accountant’s advice and assessment. Like all important decisions regarding finance, tax or law, a professional should always be consulted before completing the deal. Remember that it’s too late to talk to a professional after the deal has been signed.

How to Select a Great Accountant
Just because someone is labelled an accountant, does not necessarily mean that person will be suitable for your business. Most accountants have their areas of speciality. Some specialise in management work, others specialise in business rescue, others specialise in taxation and it is therefore important to find the right specialist that suits your type of business.

Start by asking business associates or business owners you deal with for a recommendation. Alternatively approach the society of accountants’ for a referral to suitable candidates for you to approach.

While in general it is good to deal with a qualified accountant who is a member of a professional body, the reality is there are many excellent accountants out there who do not belong to a professional body at all. They have the experience and knowledge to be able to help you and sometimes at a lower cost.

Being a member of a professional body however has its advantages for you. The accountant concerned is accountable to that body and must meet certain standards and follow accepted ethics. This gives you the business owner a certain amount of protection and confidence. An accountant who is a member of a professional body is thus highly recommended.

However, remember that at the end of the day you need to find someone that you are able to work with, someone who will take an interest in your business, someone with your interest and not theirs at heart, someone whose goal is that your business will succeed and grow, and someone that you like and can get along with.