Accountants are not just bean counters. The are business advisors – or should be.
Getting the right advice is essential for the success of your business and a key ingredient in this is having the services of an accountant who provides pertinent, timely and cost effective advice.
I strongly believe that you get your best value from your accountant by minimising the time they need to spend preparing your annual accounts, tax returns and government lodgements (and therefore the cost), so that it frees up time to spend working on improving your business.
A good accountant will help you navigate the maze of tax laws and, provide the financial advice you need to manage and grow your business. They need to be able to provide for current needs – whether they relate to tax compliance, accounting and financials – as well as future needs.
To get a deeper insight into this subject I recently spoke with Amanda Fisher, author of the book “Connected Technology”.
“Ten years ago, most businesses were using desktop accounting software. Many were using a bookkeeper who came in to enter the transactions into the software. As little as a few years ago, this completely changed with the emerging internet based cloud accounting systems. These systems automate many of the bookkeeping functions, saving significant data entry time, with daily bank transaction updates it is possible to have accurate financial data which is current,” explained Fisher.
“Business owners are embracing the ability to review their figures any day of the week knowing that the information is up-to-date. This in turn is resulting in more forward planning, budgeting, cash flow forecasting and the use of the financial figures for decision-making. As a result, they now expect more business advisory services from their accountant, not just the tax compliance work, which has traditionally been the only, work accountants provided,” continued Fisher.
If accounting firms don’t evolve with the industry, they will be left behind and clients will soon visit competitors who offer a more holistic approach to their accounting needs.
Whether it’s your first time getting an accountant, looking to replace the one you currently have or unsure of making the jump, there are 5 qualities you should look for in both the accountant and the firm before making your decision:
Does your accountant have a big network of contacts? If so, are they willing to connect you with other trusted advisors to help you grow. Remember that in business your network is your net-worth.
Last year was last year. What is your accountant focusing on next month or, next year in order to help you grow your business? Find an accountant who is going to work with you on your business rather then in it.
Responsive not reactive
The days of waiting weeks for an appointment in a physical office are slowly becoming extinct. In a world wired, you want an accountant who is able to communicate with you in real time using mediums that didn’t even exist five years ago. Entrepreneurs want answers and they need them now, not tomorrow or next week and I’m sure you are no different.
Find an accountant who is less about the clockwork, and more about partnering for the future. You want an accountant who takes a customer lifetime value approach. This is the perfect partnership because as you grow, your needs become larger and therefore you need more from your accountant which in turn increases their billings.
Being able to present critical information in a way that is effective, precise and understandable is vital for any 21st century accountant. Gone are the days where you walk out of your accountants office confused with a bunch of sophisticated numbers but little understanding of what they mean to your business.
Adapting to new challenges isn’t easy or, a task to be taken lightly. But, with challenge comes opportunity: the pay-off is potentially enormous for both yourself and your accountant.
Finding an accountant with the right combination of financial knowledge, business insight and technical proficiency increases your chance of greater success within your business. Don’t settle for second best, hire only the best because your businesses depends on it.
Alex Pirouz is an Entrepreneur, Author and Business Mentor who assists companies successfully start, grow and exit their business. Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.