If you’re looking to change accountants, there may be a number of reasons why you’ve come to this decision. When we’re meeting with new clients, we often here the following statements:
- “My accountant takes 3 weeks to get back to me”
- “My accountant is a little ‘old school’ and doesn’t understand cloud accounting“
- “My accountant takes months to do my accounts””
- “I only speak to my accountant once a year”
Unfortunately it’s fairly standard to have this sort of experience – an industry that we’re passionate about changing!
Whatever the reason, the decision to change accountants is never an easy one. This is because you may have invested years into the relationship with your existing accountant, and the ‘financial intimacy’ that has been shared.
The problem is, if you delay your decision based on these reasons, it may just drag out your average results and be worse for you in the end.
What should your accountant be focused on?
Any accountant should be focused on using their skill set to maximise the value you receive from your business. They can do this in a number of ways including:
- Setting up tax effective and protective structures to reduce your overall tax bill
- Provide you insight into your numbers so you know where to focus your business efforts
- Guiding you through the cloud accounting ecosystem and recommending apps that save you time
- Providing peace of mind and a sounding board so you know you’re in the best position
- Inviting you into their network of other businesses so you can grow with other like minded entrepreneurs
Not all accountants are the same. Here’s some questions to ask:
There is a wide variety of types of accountants, but also in their experience, their specialties and their method.
In fact, comparing accountants is like comparing apples and oranges.
When you’re looking to change accountants, questions that you must ask them are:
- How does the accountant work with you – face to face, virtual?
- How does the accountant run their own business – is it aspirational?
- What technology does the accountant work with?
- What are their qualifications and professional associations?
- Does the accountant charge by the hour or by the value that they provide?
- Do you know the price you will be charged before, or after the result is achieved?
- What experience has the accountant had – is it in your industry?
- What is the overall focus of the work the accountant will be doing for you?
What are the steps to change accountants?
1. Find a new accountant
You will need to find an alternative accountant.
Be sure you do your research in this step, given the time, dollars and emotional investment in the next relationship.
Ask the right questions, and go with your gut.
2. Let your previous accountant know
It is then always best to make contact with your existing accountant, giving them the heads up of the change.
This can be uncomfortable ending a relationship, but it is always best coming from the client, rather than the new accountant.
A good way to bring up the subject is to let them know that your needs have changed at your stage in business, and you’ve found another accountant who can look after you.
3. Your new accountant will write to your previous accountant
Once you’ve given the green light, it is a professional courtesy (or “gentleman’s handshake”) in the industry for your new accountant to send an “ethical clearance letter” to your previous accountant.
Your previous accountant should promptly respond to the letter, and forward any requested documentation to the new accountant.
It is worth noting that this reply and forwarding of information is ethically best practice for both the Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand and the Certified Practicing Accountants Australia.
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