For many people an accountant is an expensive and necessary evil much like the taxes they pay them to calculate. But this does not have to be the case. The relationship between a business owner and their accountant should be just that – a relationship. There should be understanding, compassion and assistance available when required. Above all your accountant should care about you and your business.
Below are 5 ways to tell if your accountant actually cares!
- How often do you hear from them?
If your accountant only rings you when it is time to do your accounts or even worse to chase a bill then chances are they don’t think about you regularly. In order to understand you and your business, regular contact is required. Remember there should be a relationship being constantly fostered and developed – only making contact if strictly necessary is not going to help with this.
- How often do you see them?
Some accountants may actually bother to pick up the phone now and again but how often do they give up their time to see you face to face. Although the meeting after the accounts is important, is this the only one you get? Can you arrange a meeting with them if you have things to discuss that are important to you? Will they actively organise other meetings with you to discuss general business issues rather than just a numbers review? Or will they try and fob you off with an e mail or a phone call or even worse scare you with a bill for their time?
- Is conversation purely about numbers of the past?
If all your accountant does is run you through your numbers that are probably now 6 – 9 months old then chances are they don’t care that much. Most experienced accountants could walk into a meeting with a set of accounts and come up with that conversation without any preparation what so ever. However, if they come in with an agenda with points to discuss that are pro active and planning for the future of your business then it shows that they have taken the time to prepare. They will also have had to have been in contact with you, asked important questions and listened to the answers so they know what is important to you
- Do you even know who your accountant is?
Most people know that there is a ‘partner’ floating around their accountants office somewhere and they know that last year Joe did their books and this year it is Sally but is there actually a regular point of contact who you can actually build a relationship with? Accountants who are serious about building relationships will know their clients and recognise how important low staff turnover is and will go to lengths to ensure they have this. Obviously things happen but if you are going to experience a change in personnel they will ensure this is communicated to you. Generally the partner is also a business owner therefore they can empathise with you and understand the frustrations you may be experiencing in your business. They are often great sounding boards and should be accessible to you.
- Do they say sorry?
Mistakes happen. The business of accountancy is a people based business and human’s make mistakes. Only the most cold-hearted person would not appreciate this! The important thing is the reaction when mistakes happen. Does your accountant fob you off and somehow try to blame it on you even though you are pretty sure it is not your fault? Does a senior member of staff try to blame it on someone more junior? Or do they take responsibility and simply say ‘sorry’ – we know that a mistake was made and it has caused you problems – we a sorry for this and will take actions to put it right and prevent it happening again.
Hopefully after reading the above you realise you do have an accountant who cares. If not then you may wish to either speak to your current accountant and tell them you don’t feel you are receiving the care and attention you deserve, or you may wish to seek out a new advisor. If it is the latter then maybe you can use some of the points above to find out if they are going to care for you and about you.