The phrase ‘switching accountants’ is often swiftly followed by the word ‘scary’. Despite making tough business decisions every day, many SME owners and entrepreneurs shy away from switching accountants even if they suspect they should. There are also many who probably have no idea that they should switch accountants and miss many of the obvious signs.
That’s why we’ve put together ten of our top reasons to switch accountants. If you’re already feeling a bit uneasy about your current firm, then this list might finally give you the motivation you need to make the switch. If you’ve been with your accountants for a long time and haven’t even considered moving, then we highly recommend reading on to see whether you’re missing any of these warning flags.
Whether it’s a small independent accountant in Wokingham or a large London firm, keep an eye out of for these signs to switch.
Moving with the times
This goes for you and your accountant. If you haven’t reviewed your current accountant in more than 5 years, then you risk being stuck in a costly rut. Even if you decide to stay with your accountant, a 5-year review is a good chance to have a chat about your current services, plans for the business and what they could change to improve things in the future.
Of course, it’s just as important that your accountants are proactively moving with the times themselves. They should be keeping up to date with the latest technology and contacting you for regular reviews to avoid a 5-year rut before it even happens. If it’s been a long time since your accountant had a thorough review or they aren’t using the latest cloud and app technology, then they aren’t working as efficiently as they could be which is likely costing you time and money.
Hello, are you there?
If this sounds familiar, then you definitely need to consider switching accountants. Whether you’ve been receiving a yearly review or not, you should also be getting regular contact. Efficient and proactive work requires them to stay updated with your business and your needs as well as to communicate back any updates.
This includes being able to contact them when you need to. If they seem to be unavailable every time you phone, or you just keep being passed to less experienced juniors, then it’s a sure sign that your business isn’t at the top of their client portfolio.
Find yourself a local accountant who strives to be a master of communication, from phone calls to face-to-face meetings and even mobile apps. If you can pop into your accountants in Reading for a cup of tea and a chat, then you know they’re a keeper.
Profuse application of perplexing and superfluous onomastics
That’s the use of a lot of jargon to you and me. It’s not unusual for anyone in a specialist industry to use a lot of big words to make themselves sound even more knowledgeable. Sometimes this is as innocent as wanting to show off and seem like an expert, but it can also be used to intimidate and deceive others.
As well as your accounting firm contacting you, you should feel like you can approach them. It’s important that your accountant can and is willing to take the time to explain things to you. This is not only so that you can stay involved in your business finances, but also so that you can be sure they’re not covering up poor or even nefarious work.
Take it personally
They say its just business but we disagree. When you’ve built a business from the ground up it should be personal. If you can’t remember the last time you had a conversation about your business plans, then you should look at switching accountants. If they don’t know your business and personal requirements, then there’s a good chance they’re not making the right decisions for you.
At the very least your accountants should be the right fit for business generally. If they seem to have a large personal tax return practice for non-business owners, then this is a good sign that they’re not business focused. Without a significant focus on SME and business needs, they’ll probably struggle to meet even your most basic requirements.
Like a glove
If you haven’t had a lot of conversations about your business with your accountant, then there’s also a risk that you’re not the right fit anymore and just haven’t realised it yet. If your business is growing, then you could start to find your needs too complex for their capabilities. You may find its time to say goodbye to your long-time local accountants in Berkshire and start thinking bigger.
It can also work the other way with your accountants outgrowing your business. If it gets even harder to contact your accountants or the personal touch starts to fade, then you can begin to feel like just another number in an ever-growing client portfolio. If any of this sounds familiar, then look at switching.
When they do contact you, are your accountants asking you the difficult questions? Knowing your business also means making the tough decisions, and that means getting down to the nitty-gritty. If you haven’t had any conversions recently about your plans for retirement, selling the business or other difficult exit plans you might not want to think about just yet, then they’re not doing a thorough job.
So, your accountants are getting the communication right; regular contact, a good understanding of your business, explain all the complicated stuff and aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. What about the work they do for you?
If you’re never entirely sure what your bill is going to be or often see unexpected and even unexplained additional costs, then you should switch immediately. If they’re communicating with you regularly, there should be no excuses for surprise and spiralling costs.
Back to basics
It should go without saying that if your accountants are regularly late with filing your tax return then you should probably switch, but it’s surprising how many people let even the basics slip. What’s worse is that some of these basics can end up directly costing your business, the opposite of what your accountants should be doing.
Whether your accountant is a friend, or you’ve just been with them for a long time, there’s no excuse for even the bare minimum not being met. If your tax return is always put on extension or you often get unexpected tax liabilities, penalties and interest charges then you’re not receiving even the most basic service.
The bottom line
The bottom line for any business is the bottom line. You want to save money and improve profitability wherever possible, and your accountants should be an important part of this. As the finance experts, they need to be proactively looking for ways that you could save money on tax and identifying opportunities for profit in the places that you wouldn’t or couldn’t know to look.
If you’ve never or rarely had conversations that discuss making you more profit and they’re simply filling out your tax returns and sending you the bill then we highly recommend switching accountants.
Have your cake and eat it
If you’re sure that your accountants are doing everything they should be doing, then what about everything they could be doing? Accounting firms can offer a lot more than tax and compliance. In fact, there’s a lot of additional services and personal touches they could be providing to give you the best value for money. If you feel like you’re only receiving the bare minimum, don’t be afraid to ask your accountants to go the extra mile. If they’re unwilling, then don’t be afraid to look around for a firm that is.
Ready to make the switch?
If you recognise any of these signs and are now ready to make the switch then you’ll be pleased to know it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. We know all about switching and can guide you through the whole process. Contact us today to find out more.