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How to find an accountant that’s right for your business

A great accountant is invaluable to your business. The best accountants can increase your tax efficiency, make sure you're compliant, improve your cash flow, and help source funding to support your growth plans.

Finding a good accountant will save you a huge amount of time, and ideally money, in the long run. They can be key to guiding your business through ever-changing laws to grow in the best, most cost-effective ways.

The benefits of hiring a good accountant:

  • They can help to free up more of your time by handling basic functions, such as bookkeeping and tax returns.
  • As your business grows, your accountant’s input can become more significant. They can cover essential areas like financial reporting, payroll, tax efficiency, and business planning.
  • They will also help to reduce the risk to your business by ensuring your taxes are correctly and accurately filed.

But where can you start in finding a good accountant? The Institute of Financial Accountants website is a helpful resource to find an accountant in your local area. Every accountant listed on this site is IFA qualified, so you know they’re chartered by a regulatory board and suitably qualified.

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How to find an accountant if you’re self-employed

  • If friends or family members own a small business or are self-employed, ask if they’d recommend their own accountant.
  • If you have a LinkedIn profile, use this platform to search for accountants who’ve been recommended by others in your field.

Why hire an accountant as a self-employed person?

It’s not essential to have an accountant as a self-employed individual, but there are benefits to hiring one.

Accountants can help you as a self-employed person to fill in and submit your self-assesment tax returns at the end of the financial year. Their job will be to make sure it’s filled in correctly and accurately to what you have earned.

This will not only save you time, but it’ll make sure you’re tax-efficient and safe from being fined for doing something wrong.

Thinking of continuing to manage your self-employed finances?

Maybe an invoicing app is all the support you need for now

If you’re sitting there thinking you could manage your money on your own with the help of an app, then consider this: Every Checkatrade member gets a free invoicing app when they join us. The 1 Trade App by Powered Now, check it out. And if you join us, you can get it for free.

Get help managing your finances

All our members get a free finance app on us.

Join Checkatrade today

How to find an accountant if you’re a small business in the UK

  • If you’re part of your local business community, ask for recommendations for accountants who work with companies in your area.
  • There are voluntary organisations set up to provide help and advice to small businesses for free.
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce would also be a good place to start in finding an accountant for your small business.

Ideally, you want to find an accountant who has experience in the size and sector of the business you’re operating in. They will then have that experience to help you continue growing your business while keeping you tax efficient and compliant.

accountant filing a tax return

What to ask an accountant when you’re starting a business

Knowing what to ask an accountant can help to make sure you select the right person to support your business and its future growth.

Here are some questions you can ask to see if they’re right for you and your business:

Can you give me examples of related work experience you’ve had with businesses like mine?

If the accountant has worked with clients in a similar sector to yours, they’ll have a good understanding of the unique needs of your business. They’ll know about specific tax laws that will apply to you.

For example, if you work in construction, you’d be wise to find an accountant who is familiar with the intricacies of the Construction Industry Scheme. Ask your accountant if there are any special considerations for your business sector to check they’re aware of both risks and opportunities.

What services do you offer?

Ask what services the accountant offers to make sure they can support your business needs. This might range from basic bookkeeping and filing a self-assessment tax returns to advice on financial compliance.

You can let the accountant know your growth plans and ask what services they could offer to support this. It’s much better to find an accountant who can grow with you rather than having to switch later down the line.

What are your rates?

When asking about the services you require, ask them to be priced up so you can compare the cost, like-for-like, with other accountancy firms. Some accountants charge a one-off fee for a service, such as a tax return, while others will charge a monthly fee. Clarify this from the start.

Ask specific questions about your needs. The accountant should explain it in simple terms to you, rather than purposefully confuse you.

A good accountant will help your company grow by managing the complex financial work and offer advice to help you make sound financial decisions.

To test this knowledge, ask questions about:

  • Expenses (what can be offset against your tax bill?)
  • The common pitfalls clients make to help you avoid the same (a good accountant should highlight risks as well as opportunities)
  • How much of your earnings should you set aside for tax (as a percentage)
  • Tips for managing cash flow (which can often be a problem for new businesses)

When asking these questions, the accountant should be willing to explain to you in terms that you understand. If they do not, tell them you do not understand and they should be happy to explain so that you can understand. The best accountants can break down complex topics.

How much does an accountant cost?

The cost of an accountant varies depending on the services you require.

  • The average cost of an accountant in the UK is around £25 – £35 per hour. This is for basic services, such as bookkeeping.
  • For more complex work, for example, tax planning, you can expect to pay £150 per hour or more.
  • For a tax return, you can expect to pay between £150 – £250. A complex return will cost more.

Depending on the needs of your business, you could enquire about a combined package to help the day-to-day running of your business. In this instance, you might be charged a monthly fee, which could range from £60 – £250, depending on the size of your business.

Some accountants charge by the hour, some charge a monthly retainer, others might charge a percentage of your turnover. Make sure this is clear before you instruct an accountant to work on your behalf.

Check out our article on the cost of an accountant for more information.

How much is it for an accountant to do a tax return?

receipts overflowing from a shopping cart

An accountant normally charges somewhere between £150 – £250 for a tax return, depending on its complexity.

It’s good practice to keep on top of your books, making it part of your habit to record invoices and bills. This will help to make sure your accounts are in order for your accountant to file your tax return efficiently. Less work for the accountant could help to lower your bill!

How we’re helping our members to keep on top of their books

The online accounting software, 1Trade App from PoweredNow, will help you to keep on top of your books. It allows you to invoice and quote, keep track of jobs and manage customers. It’s free for all our Checkatrade members.

Even better, if you’re looking for a software that does all the above but also lets you do expenses, accept credit and debit cards and submit your VAT return directly to HMRC, then you can upgrade to Powered Now and get 30% off as a Checkatrade member.

Get help managing your finances

All our members get a free finance app on us.

Join Checkatrade today

How to check if an accountant is qualified?

Beware, it’s not a legal requirement for an accountant to hold any qualifications. However, we recommend you choose an accountant who is qualified through one of the recognised UK bodies: ICAEW, ICAS, CIMA or ACCA. Being a member of one of these bodies offers you recourse should your accountant make a serious error while representing your business.

Quick summary

Your accountant will be intimately involved in the operation of your business, so make sure to select someone you feel you can work with and that you can trust.

Recommendations and reviews can often be helpful in this respect, so take a moment to look at the accountant’s website and LinkedIn profile.

  • Industry knowledge and experience – Choose an accountant who has experience working with other clients in your industry. They will have a good understanding of the specific tax laws that affect your business.
  • Qualifications – Check the accountant is qualified through one of the recognised industry bodies: ICAEW, ICAS, CIMA or ACCA.
  • Fees – Accountants can have different pricing structures depending on the services you require, so it’s best to clarify this at the offset.
  • Future growth – Ask how the accountant has helped other clients to grow their businesses. You’ll want to make sure your accountant can support the plans you have for your own business.

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