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Top tips when switching to new accountants

There may be times in your business where as a small business owner you may have to look for a new accountant. This could be because you are setting up a new business in itself or in conjunction with your existing businesses, and would like advice on tax planning. It could also be because you have an existing accountant and would like to change, as the current level of service being provided is not up to standard.

From the perspective of existing business owners, changing your accountant may seem like a challenging process at first, especially if you have been with your current accountant for a long period of time and have built a personal relationship, but are looking for a change nonetheless. Here are a few tips that can help you with this decision and ease you into the changeover process:

  • Communicate: Contact your current accountant to let them know that you will be moving on. Make sure that all affairs such as BAS’s and tax returns are completed, or make it clear to the accountant that any outstanding works will be performed by the new accountant. This way, you will not be presented with a bill upon your leaving and have a nasty surprise which could potentially break down the relationship with your current accountant.
  • Do the research: Either through referrals from your contacts, internet searches or advertising, before making the decision on your new accountant make sure that you have done sufficient research to know that the new accountant is the right choice for you. You can arrange to meet with them for an initial meeting to get an idea of what services the accountant provides and which will be of use to you. Be careful not to overanalyse as this may clog your mind with unnecessary data and you may end up on the lookout for a while
  • Planning: Before meeting with a potential new accountant, list out your objectives and reasons for looking for a new accountant. It is possible that you may set up meetings and find out that the accountant is not capable of providing the exact services you require. Plan out the meeting agenda so that you can easily explain to your accountant what is required during the first meeting itself.
  • Documentation: Take in as much documentation as possible relating to your accounts so your potential new accountant can see during the first meeting itself what work will be involved. It is possible that the accounts are in a mess and require a bit of fixing up, so taking your P&L, balance sheet, trial balances etc. on a USB can be quite helpful to the new accountant and give you an idea of the time and cost involved in fixing up the accounts.
  • Follow up: Once you have decided on your new accountant and are satisfied with the level of service and costs, make sure that they are a registered tax agent and are not prohibited by law to provide the promised services. This is because it is actually illegal to provide income tax services and subsequently charge for them if the accountant is not a registered tax agent with a valid agent number.

Once you have decided to make the switch, it is imperative that the new accountant you find can communicate clearly, is the right choice for you and has set out a clear plan of action to make sure that what you require is what you are getting. We hope that these tips will help you in making the right decision and saving you the headache that comes with making the wrong choice.

About the author:

This article was written by John Corias, senior accountant at M.A.S Accountants.

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