Choosing an accountant or tax adviser
Tips on how to choose the right
accountant/tax adviser for you or your
It is important to choose your accountant/tax adviser
carefully. Here are a few tips to help you.
If you have not used an adviser before you should
be aware that anyone can call themselves an
accountant/tax adviser whether or not they are
There are some non-qualified advisers who may have
the experience to help you but qualified accountants/
tax advisers have completed relevant qualifications
and will be regulated by their professional body.
Professionally qualified advisers will have achieved a
qualification comprising knowledge, work experience
and ethics. They keep their skills and knowledge up
to date through continuing professional development
and make an annual statement to their professional
body that they have done so. They are also required
to hold Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Some of the professional bodies who can help you
find an accountant/tax adviser are:
What to look for in an accountant/tax adviser
- For tax advice, check that the firm has the expertise to provide the type of
advice you are looking for
- If you are in business, look for a firm of an appropriate size and with other
business clients of a similar size to your business. They are likely to understand
the issues and problems you will face.
- Do you want them to have experience of advising clients in the same trade
sector as your business?
- Do they provide all the services you require? If you need audit, investment or
insolvency advice make sure that the accountant is authorised to undertake that
- Do they have a good reputation?
- Will they be acceptable to third parties e.g. finance providers, shareholders?
- What qualifications do they have? Are those qualifications appropriate for your
particular needs? Do they have professional indemnity insurance?
- Would you be able to contact or meet them as often as you wanted?
- Invest time in finding the right adviser. Take a look at websites and make sure
that a prospective adviser offers the services you need.
- Contact a few firms and arrange to meet with those on your shortlist. That way
you should get a feel for how you would be able to work with them.
- If you are planning to start a business or if you have had communications with
HMRC let you prospective adviser know.
- If you are starting a business tell them about the accounting records you keep.
Can they suggest improvements?
- Check whether they offer the services you will need as your business develops.
- Find out who in the firm would be doing your work. It may not be the adviser
you meet on your first appointment.
- Check in advance whether the first meeting is free of charge; specific advice
may be chargeable.
- Establish the basis of fees and when they will be payable. Ask for an estimate.
- The adviser may want to see your accounting records if business accounts are
to be prepared. There will be additional charges for services such as preparing
VAT returns or running a payroll.
- How much would the adviser charge to help you compile a business plan? If
you already have one ask them to comment on it.
- Remember that you may be able to minimise charges by doing some of the
work yourself. Ask the adviser about this at the initial meeting.
- If you are thinking of buying a software package discuss the options with the
adviser because the purchase of a compatible product could save the adviser's
chargeable time and your fees.
After appointing your adviser
- You should receive a letter setting out what your adviser will (and will not) do for
you and the terms of the engagement
- Your adviser should keep in touch, not just contact you at the year-end. You
should tell your accountant /tax adviser as soon as possible of changes in your
business or personal circumstances
- After the annual accounts or tax return have been prepared your adviser will let
you know what your future tax liabilities will be.
- You should also let your adviser know if you are considering retirement, selling
or giving away an interest in your business
- Review your adviser's charges regularly and check that they are still providing
the services you need.