Having the right accountant for your business is more than just about making sure that your books are balanced or that your taxes are handled at the end of the financial year. Having the right accountant could mean establishing a business relationship for life.
This is why it’s important to recognise that if your current accountant is not meeting your needs, it might be time for a change—and the process is much easier than you might think.
Is it time to find a new accountant?
As a business owner, the most likely reason you may want a new accountant is that your business has grown and changed and is no longer a good match with your current accountant. As a consumer, your circumstances may have changed, or you may be seeking to plan for retirement, or you feel your accountant doesn’t understand your goals.
It’s imperative that you have a trustworthy accountant who understands your needs. If your accounts are getting too complex for your accountant to handle, it’s time to find someone new. If your accountant is not ensuring that you are keeping up to date with your taxes and planning ahead, then this is another red flag that it may be time to move in another direction.
How do you go about changing accountants?
Should you decide to hire a new accountant, you should consider the timing of it too. It’s not a process you want to rush through; after all, you want the transition to be handled with attention to detail. So absolutely avoid making the change at the end of the financial year.
Do your research and speak to friends and other business owners about their accountant or who they would recommend. Also find out how much they pay – if they are willing to hand over this information. Most people are happy to share this information as it is something that everyone feels strongly about – the need to have a good accountant on board.
Asking the right questions is important when you are making a decision as big as changing accountants. It is important that you get things right. A good accountant does not only help you manage your tax affairs, they can offer assistance in helping you identify areas where you may need to consider making other changes in order to maximise revenue.
How do you handle the handover process?
I think most people might stick to their current accountant just out of convenience. It’s actually a fairly streamlined process that is handled between your old and new accountants.
- Discharge: Tie up any loose ends by ensuring that any outstanding bills with your current accountant are paid for. This will ensure a smooth transition.
- Ethical clearance letter: Once you have hired your new accountant, they will write to your old accountant for an ethical clearance letter. This is to ensure that there are no ethical considerations that may prevent them from accepting you as their new client.
Following this, they will then request that your documentation be transferred to them. This will include tax returns, financial statements, Trust Deeds etc.
- Signing: You will then be asked to sign an engagement letter with your new accountant.
How to prepare for new beginnings?
Once your new accountant has taken over, they will go through a few processes such as updating ATO records, reviewing past documents to identify any mistakes, and then finally, start a new planning process with you. This is the beginning of a new business relationship so it’s the right time to set up new goals and milestones to strive for.
Coco Hou is the managing director of Platinum Professional Training, a national training provider for the accounting and bookkeeping industry, and Platinum Accounting Australia, a national network of accounting and bookkeeping businesses that specialise in providing strategic and practical taxation, business and accounting advisory services.