Last time, I wrote about the importance of keeping physical records, now, we’re going to talk about relationships – specifically the relationship between you and your business supporter.
Why is maintaining a good relationship important?
If a friend calls you for a chat or keeps asking you to meet them for a coffee and you continuously fail to meet up or answer your phone, you’re not going to get the best out of your relationship with them. Eventually, they’ll feel you’re not making an effort and will stop trying. The same can be said about your accountant; if your accountant is asking you for information about your records or has queries about your business and/or financial transactions and you take a long time to answer these (or even ignore the requests!), you can’t possibly expect to get the best service they can offer.
A relationship is a two way process, and both you and your accountant should put in the effort to maintain it. If you are not in regular communication with your accountant at least once a month, you should consider switching as they are not making the effort you deserve. On the flip side, if your accountant has tried numerous times to contact you, with no reply, or is not getting answers to their queries, then I wouldn’t expect them to keep trying; they would rather focus on clients who they feel they can add value to. After all, if you tried to contact your accountant to no avail then you wouldn’t be keen to continue with them either.
What should you expect from your accountant nowadays:
It used to be the case (and actually still is for the majority of traditional accountancy firms) that your typical accountant would speak to you a handful of times a year to request your financial information and then prepare your accounts/tax returns and charge you a hefty fee without adding any real value to your business. You would pay to meet your accountant, and would usually clock watch, knowing that each minute would cost you. You would also be charged for any time they spent on the phone or emailing you (similar to an architect or lawyer).
At Freelance World, we think your accountant should be much more than a number cruncher or simply someone who minimises your tax liability. Don’t settle for a poor service. Your accountant should be:
- Understanding – The accountant should understand your business, how it works and your vision for the future.
- Flexible – available to meet at different times – including out of hours.
- Pro-active – taking an active interest in your business and offering you advice.
- Contactable – Through different communication channels such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook etc.
- Plain talking – there’s no point in paying someone to help with your business if they speak to you in a language that you can’t understand (namely Accountancy Jargon).
- Enabling – Able to help you grow your business, advise on financing, asset investment and business strategy.
What your accountant expects from you:
- Keeping good records – I wrote about this in a previous blog post. If you keep bad records, it is going to take your accountant more time to work through them, and therefore cost you more.
- Timely answers to queries – If your accountant sends you a list of queries or a request for information and you are not in regular communication (or indeed neglect to send it altogether) then don’t expect your accountant to stick around. The service they offer is only as good as the information they are given.
- Honesty – Be completely honest with regard to your transactions and your level of knowledge. If you don’t understand something then NEVER be afraid to ask. Your accountant (if they are good) should be willing to explain anything without jargon to ensure you understand it.
As with any relationship in life, it requires that both parties work together. Make sure your accountant is working for you – and you’re providing work for them…
…and you will be a match made in heaven!
Self Assessment – Q & A
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