How to choose a great accountant for your business

Choosing the right accountant for your business is critical to your ongoing success.

Like a trusted business partner, having a great accountant on your team will help you make the right financial decisions as your business grows. 

But with more than 200,000 registered accountants in Australia how do you choose an accountant that is right for you? 

In this article we outline the five key attributes of a great accountant and how to ensure they are the right fit for your business.

1. A great accountant understands you - not just your business

To provide you with the right advice, your accountant should spend time getting to know you; understanding what you value and what you are trying to achieve, Whether you're trying to spend more time with the family, generate extra superannuation to fund your retirement or looking to grow your business, your personal goals are what drives you. Ultimately, you're aiming to create a better financial future for you and your family, and your business is the primary means by which you will achieve that. 

A great business accountant understands this and will initially spend time getting to know: 
●    Your personal and business goals,
●    Where you’re currently at,
●    What's in your way; and
●    How quickly you want to achieve your goals.

With this information your accountant will be able to recommend a solution that best suits you.

A great accountant understands more than just your business - they simply get you.

2. They understand what it's like to run a business

Communicating is much simpler when you and your accountant speak the same language.

Choosing a boutique business advisor means you'll be working face-to-face with an experienced business owner, not just an accountant. While most qualified accountants can help you manage your tax and interpret financial reports, you can trust a fellow business owner to bring unique insights and empathy to your professional relationship.

Industry experience is also a key consideration. When your accountant is familiar with your industry, they're better able to understand the challenges you face and the best way to deal with them.

At VBA, our client portfolio spans a wide variety of industries; from tourism and hospitality to trades and fitness centres. Our broad industry experience means we're well-equipped to provide you with the right advice.

3. They have all the right skills

There are three key areas you'll need your business accountant to be proficient in. These are:
●    Minimising tax: Compliance is crucial - and every accountant does it. However, a great accountant will ensure you're not only tax-law compliant, but will look for opportunities to minimise the amount of tax you pay. 
●    Growing your business: You can't afford for your business to stagnate while your competitors outpace you. Your accountant will recognise when it's time to grow and help you build a strategy to do so. Read more about growing your business in our eBook: "Your Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your Business For Growth".
●    Protecting your assets and growing your wealth: An accountant is an ally you can rely on to have your best interests at heart, advising you on business and investment structures that protect your assets and maximise your wealth.

Does your accountant have the strategy to help your business grow?

4. They provide exceptional service

Quality service is a basic expectation from any professional - but a great accountant goes above and beyond. Before you partner with a business accountant, ask them about their business and how they will manage your work. Will you be dealing with a dedicated accountant who understands your business, and have access to them when you need advice?

Your accountant should be proactive, keeping a constant pulse on your industry, business and financial requirements. 

Expect to see work completed on time and on budget, and don’t compromise on quality to save a few dollars. A great accountant is flexible enough to work within your budget while delivering a high-quality service.

You should also look for an accountant who values long-term relationships as they will be invested in your business and work with you to successfully navigate the highs and lows of your journey.

5. Their pricing structure provides value for money 

Getting the best advice within your budget means finding an accountant who offers dynamic pricing structures. A dynamic pricing structure, like that offered by VBA, is tailored to your individual requirements, quoted as a fixed price for an agreed scope of work and has the ability to adapt as your business and financial requirements change. 

By contrast, pricing structures that are quoted as hourly rates ultimately work for the benefit of the accountant, not you. They create a perverse incentive - "if we take longer, we get paid more". This pricing method does not take into account the value of the work being delivered and discourages business owners from reaching out to their accountants for advice when they need it for fear of being hit with a large bill. 

Not everyone has the budget to outsource all their financial requirements to their accountant, so it’s important to understand which services will deliver the best value for your business and which ones should be completed in-house. Talk to your accountant about payment options that suit your cash flow, including monthly payments to spread the cost of the work over the year. Prepayment of your accounting services at the end of the financial year can also be a clever strategy to maximise your tax deductions. 

A great accountant will provide you with a fully-costed proposal with flexible payment options, allowing you to make the right choice for your business. 

Great accountants aren't always easy to come by. If you're looking for an accountant you can trust, reach out to VBA today to create a better financial future for you and your family.