The actual size of the accountants business may not be your first consideration but it may influence your decision. For most start ups a smaller local accounting business is often more suitable than a large national accountant that deals with large corporations. However, you will still need to decide on the type of accountant that you want to work with.
A small accounting business with a sole owner is likely to be cheaper than the accounting firm in centre of town with the stunning office and large car park. Selecting an independent accountant has several benefits not least the potential cash savings. You may develop a more personal relationship with the individual as you always have a single point of contact to help with simple questions or to prepare your full trading company accounts. The accountant may take more interest in your business. You are less likely to feel like just ‘another client’ and you may appreciate their input and suggestions regarding best practice for your business.
However, choosing an accountant that practices alone has several potential issues that need to be considered.
What do you do if they are on holiday, sick, in meetings, or suffering with a long term illness? You may regularly ask your accountant questions about your accounting software. Some people see their accountant once a year whilst others maintain regular contact. Who will answer your questions if they are not available?
Do you need your accountant to be your registered office service? Some accountants allow you to use their address as your company’s registered office. This means that they receive all of your official company correspondence, including tax notices and reminders. They are able to act on any notices as and when they arrive. If considering an independent accountant are they based at home? Will they allow you to use their address as your registered office address? If they do what if they move?
Specific business requirements may require special accounting knowledge. Whilst an individual operating on their own may have an excellent knowledge base, they may not provide all of the services that you need in the short, medium or even long term. Some accountants provide a full range of services including-
- Accounts and Audit for companies
- Accounts Software – installation, setup and support
- Acquisitions and Disposals
- Book Keeping
- Business Planning
- Business Start Up Services
- Cash Flow Forecasting
- Company Secretarial Services and Registered Office Services
- Corporate Tax Services
- Forensic Accounting
- IT Support beyond your accounting needs
- Management Accounts
- Payroll Bureau for individuals and companies
- Raising Finance advice
- Tax Compliance
On a personal level, some accountants also provide the following for individuals outside of running a business-
- Financial Advice and Investment Advice
- Inheritance Tax Planning
- Self assessment/tax planning