The key to getting the best deal from your accountant – Consider the service as an investment, not a cost. You need to ensure the value provided is accurately reflected in their fees.

1. Selecting the right accountant – Ensure your accountant is the right match for your business. For a small company, choosing a large accountancy firm isn’t necessarily the wisest move – Why pay ‘corporate’ fees when you could benefit from a smaller practice? Research several firms to find the best match avoiding unnecessary costs.

2. Industry sector expertise. Identify an accountant that has specific experience within your industry sector. This will enable them to offer informed, specialist advice and add value helping you maximise profit.

3. Understand and maximise the value they can add. Be clear on your priorities when you select an accountant – Ensure that they can offer sound advice in additional areas that are important to you – For example, strategic business planning to help achieve your goals. Other than benefitting from sound financial advice, be sure to utilise your accountants’ connections – Accountants specialising in your industry sector should be able to recommend trade contacts offering favourable rates or perhaps they work in partnership with other relevant businesses that can also assist you in saving costs.

4. Negotiate the right fee structure. Time based billing is the traditional, but out-dated method of charging – Accountants advocate this, as it rewards inefficiency. It also leaves the customer with a sense of uncertainty. Fees should be simple and transparent: Insist on a fixed fee, for a specific period of time. Eliminate uncertainty and avoid nasty surprises for emails, letters, phone calls or visits. Ensure you can spread the cost monthly allowing you to manage cash flow more effectively.

5. Brief your accountant. Invest time in briefing your accountant so they really understand your businesses current requirements and future plans, enabling them to give well informed, proactive advice and prevent them from working ‘in the dark’ only delivering a generic service.

6. Set Expectations. Your accountant will summarise Business Terms in a Letter of Engagement. Make your expectations clear from the outset too: Describe the level of service you require – For example, how quickly you require queries to be resolved and accounts to be processed, formalise this in writing and don’t be afraid to set the bar high, superior customer service should be a priority.

7. Build a relationship with your accountant. Communicate regularly to get the best possible value from the relationship. Schedule telephone meetings to review your business’s performance, so you can better plan for the future. Become comfortable interrogating the information that is delivered and ask questions if things are unclear, utilising the information to boost your profitability. Inform them if your plans or direction change: Your accountant needs to be an extension of your business enabling you to prosper.

8. Provide information in a timely and organised manner. If your financial affairs are well organised before you start working together, you will undoubtedly save money in fees and help your accountant deliver a more pro-active, focused service. If you work in a methodical way, it will allow more time for your accountant to think strategically about your business, hence adding further value.

For further tips on choosing the right accountant, download our free guide now