Although your business may be small, it doesn't mean you don't deserve an affordable, first class accounting service from fully qualified professionals.
And that's why we're proud to be members of both the leading accounting and taxation bodies - just click on the images to find out more.
So why should you care?
You might not. And you might have a really good non-qualified accountant.
And we've come across some pretty shocking examples of poor advice and bad practice given by both qualified and non-qualified accountants.
However we can hand on heart say that in our experience, we've come across more problems when taking on clients who've been dealt with by non-qualified accountants than when they've been dealt with by qualified accountants.
So why would that be?
Well, an accountant who is a member of a recognised accounting body should adhere to rules/ standards/ethics/guidelines set by their professional body. And a client can go back to the recognised body to complain if their accountant seriously lets them down (by the way, we don't suggest this as a normal course of action, but it does mean you have more leverage to sort out a problem with your accountant without needing to take such a drastic step).
In addition, if qualified accountants offer accounting and tax services directly to clients, they must have gained sufficient experience to hold a 'Practicing Certificate' (PC). A PC will only be issued by their accounting body once they have shown evidence of having the necessary experience.
Accountants holding such a Practice Certificate and providing services to clients must take out professional indemnity insurance, which gives their clients protection in the unlikely case of a complaint or litigation being brought.
Of course it may well be the case that a non-qualified accountant (often referred to as 'Qualified by Experience' - QBE) has the equivalent experience and insurance cover.
However the challenge lies in just how you measure the experience of a QBE accountant.
Formal training ensures that qualified accountants have been exposed to many, if not all, aspects of accounting and taxation. And all qualified accountants are required to keep up their level of knowledge in the light of changing rules and regulations.
A QBE learns by experience. And if they have not experienced a particular aspect of taxation or accounting, they will usually not have learnt about it.
So it's a bit like if you've got a back problem. Would you rather go to a qualified Physiotherapist or take your chances with the guy down the road who's learnt on the job.
And dare we say it, but your business is as important, if not more important, than your back!
And because choosing the right accountant is critical for your business, here are 10 questions we think you should ask any prospective accountant:
- Ask prospective accountants for client testimonials or for the names of reference contacts.
- Check the accountant’s qualifications.
- Find out about their relevant experience.
- Ask how many clients that they have like you.
- Ask for a full break down of their charges – is their fee fixed or will you be expected to pay any ‘extras’?
- How will they ensure your deadlines will be met and that you won’t have to pay any fines?
- Are they regulated by a professional body?
- Do they have professional indemnity insurance?
- What is their complaints procedure?
- Have they had any complaints or been sued in the last 10 years?