Good accounting; goal-driven vs driven to gaol

Why bother putting effort into choosing a good accountant? The first part of the answer is if you go to any professional seeking advice you need to be confident that the advice is correct.

The potential upside of choosing a good accountant is that he or she could become the best possible advisor for your business. Your accountant gets to know your business and the financial management of your business very well. This knowledge coupled with your accountant’s skill and experience makes him, or her, a very useful sounding board for your business, someone who can help you achieve your business goals.

On the other side, there are now a number of businessmen in gaol for taxation offenses, so the price of getting it wrong is high. Even if you don’t go to gaol, the Tax Office will penalise you quite heavily for errors.

What should you look for in a good accountant?

  • Membership of any of the professional bodies tells you that the accountant has reached a level of education and that the accountant is engaged in an ongoing education process.
  • Ask the accountant what they think about the continuing education requirements. Any good accountant will embrace education as a way of keep up to date and on top of changes to the tax, company, superannuation etc. legislation they are involved with.
  • Ask how the accountant will keep you informed of changes that may affect your business operation. Do they have both a general information system and a more specific way of advising changes to effected clients?
  • Go to the accountant’s office to observe how they run their business. Is the office clean, well-kept and have an air of efficiency about it.
  • Talk to the accountant about where they are in their programme of work for the year. Also how quickly they complete work and give it back to clients.  Good accountants will be providing information to your bank and the tax office etc. in a timely manner.
  • Can the accountant give you sound business advice? Choosing an Accountant who will be a good business advisor will enable you to gain the full potential from your relationship with your accountant and ultimately achieve your business goals.

As a business person you need a professional advisor who will tell you your options and cost those options for you. This way you can make an informed decision of how much or how little risk you are willing to take in a business decision.  Sorting things out after the event is always costly and time consuming.

Like many decisions in life the solution of your accountant is not based on just one criteria. In the end you must decide if this accountant is someone that you can talk to about your business and if they will provide you the information and advice that you can trust with confidence.

Abby Practice CA and Principal Sid Edwards will be looking at “How to Choose a Good Accountant” at a complimentary Small Business September event, which will be held on Tuesday 6 September at the Business Centre, 470 Church St, North Parramatta.

To register go to http://events.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au/Events.aspx?eventid=4605 or call (02) 9476 0399.

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