They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a team to run a business. Just as world leaders rely upon trusted advisors to achieve their goals and objectives, so do business owners every day – and experience shows few, if any, have a more pivotal role to play in your ongoing success than your accountancy partner.
The right accountancy partner is an indispensable business ally. They’ll work closely with you to help streamline your operations and cash flow, meet your financial and taxation obligations, maximise growth strategies and mitigate risks across your business in the short, mid and long term. Of course, not all accountants offer the same level of service or have the same strengths. So how do you choose the best one for you?
Create a shortlist
Forming a shortlist is an excellent idea. A great way to do this is to set up introductory meetings with a few accounting firms that you’ve identified through your own research, possibly including recommendations from trusted colleagues or associates. These meetings will enable you to ask lots of questions and gather information about how they’ll work with you. First impressions really do count, so pay close attention.
Ask for qualifications
It may seem obvious. But it’s worth asking for the qualifications of any potential accountancy partner so you’re confident they have the skills and standards your business needs. Specifically, are they degree qualified? Are they a member of at least one of Australia’s peak Accounting Industry associations: the Institute of Chartered Accountants and/or Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA)? Membership of these associations requires them to meet the highest professional standards. It also means you have the protection of being able to contact the Association directly if you’re ever unhappy for any reason.
Look for chemistry
Cultural fit is essential in any business relationship. Trust your instincts. If the chemistry doesn’t feel right in your initial dealings, it’s unlikely to be the right choice for you. Remember, this is the future of your business at stake – so you need to be able to trust each other, deeply. An accountancy partner who shares your values is far more likely to work better with you.
Quality conversations and insights
The quality of your early conversations can reveal a lot. Are they enthusiastic about working with you? Do they have a good grasp of your business and/or industry? Do they listen to what you have to say? Are their responses insightful, intelligent, clear and easy to understand? Do they have a proactive or reactive attitude?
Collaboration and leadership
You don’t want an accountant who only does what you tell them to do. The best accountancy partners will collaborate with you and take the lead when it make sense to do so. They won’t be afraid to speak up and challenge you, respectfully, if there are strategies that could deliver even better results. At times they may even make you feel a little uncomfortable, but isn’t that what you want in a professional relationship?
Horses for courses
Every business has strengths and weaknesses, and accounting firms are no different. This makes it imperative to check that a potential accountancy partner has the skillset and expertise your business actually needs. Review their website and client list to get a feeling for their core areas of focus. Ask them to explain, in detail, how they have worked successfully with similar businesses to yours. Ask them to explain their processes. If possible, it’s also a great idea to speak with one or two of their current clients.
Who will be working on your business?
Are the people you meet initially the same people who will be working on your business day-to-day? If not, who will be? These are important questions and ones that need to be asked before you commit to any new partnership. There’s no point having great chemistry with the Partners if you never see them again!
What software do they use?
There are a lot of different accounting systems nowadays. While at Hill Rogers we have knowledge across most major platforms, some accountants have a preferred software that they’ve used for many years. If it’s different to the one your business uses it may create compatibility issues and could even lead to inefficiencies, so be sure to ask.
Look for value, not just price
Like many things in business it can be very tempting to be guided solely by cost. But it’s worth remembering choosing an accountancy partner is an investment in the future of your business – and you get what you pay for. The right accountancy partner will repay you many times over, so always look for value rather than just fees.
ACCOUNTANCY PARTNER CHECKLIST
- Do you sense a good cultural fit?
- Do they have relevant industry experience?
- How well do they understand your business?
- Do they ask intelligent questions?
- Can you speak openly with each other?
- Are they available when you need them?
- Do they have a proven record of success?
- Do they offer value for money?
- What accountancy software do they use?
- Can you get a reference from an existing client?
Is Hill Rogers your perfect accountancy partner? To arrange an introductory meeting in the strictest of confidence, please contact us here.