Changing your accountant

Victoria Cooper, Owner of Red Shoes Accounting Services, answers a question which often gets asked at networking events - "How easy is it for me to change my existing accountant?"

Why do people ask me this?

Generally people are under the impression that changing accountants is a difficult task and one not to be undertaken lightly. The reasons for wanting to change are many and varied but can include:

  • Unexpected costs/bills arising from correspondence/phone calls etc
    Many people do not wish to contact their accountant for this reason, in case the costs escalate. This can lead to uncertainties on financial issues and potentially mistakes being made within your business. Ensure from the outset that your accountant provides a budgeted, fixed cost and that you can contact them as much as you need to without additional costs being incurred.
  • The cost of the accountant being too high
    If you are finding cost an issue, a small accountancy firm with lower overheads may be a better fit for you. A good accountant will offer flexibility: pay as you go, or a budgeted cost over the year with fixed monthly payments.
  • The existing accountant retiring or selling the business to another firm
    If your accountant has sold their business to another firm, you are under no obligation to stay with that firm if you feel they are not the right fit for your business.
  • The client relocating to a new area or wanting a more local accountant
    It's important to have a good relationship with your accountant and one who fully understands your business. By having yours conveniently close by, you will not only save time and money travelling, you should expect to receive a more personalised service built on trust.
  • The accountant annoying the client by not dealing with issues in a timely fashion or not being responsive to emails or phone calls
    Business owners are busy people. You should fully expect your accountant to be very responsive and deal with you in a timely, friendly and approachable manner. If they are not, do they value you as a client? This scenario can often lead to a breakdown of the relationship.
  • The accountant not being ufficiently flexible to meet the changing needs of the business over time
    As your business grows your accountant should go to great lengths to work with you, becoming an essential and pro­active part of your team to improve your profitability - the relationship should be built on a foundation of trust.
  • So, how easy is it to change accountant?
    You should contact your existing accountant as a matter of courtesy, but having done that the process is simple and painless. The new accountant will handle everything else on your behalf. This includes writing to the existing accountant, obtaining all relevant documentation and information to enable the transfer to take place and then undertaking all the work needed to issue a letter of engagement to enable you to become a client of the new firm. It really is that straightforward. If you feel that you aren't happy with the service that you are receiving then feel under no obligation to stay. Do what is right for your business.
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