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What to Look for in Your Business’s Accountant

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Hiring an accountant is a crucial decision to get right, especially during the vital start-up phase. Without one, key decisions can be missed at extra financial burden to your business.

On the other hand, having accurate figures to work from helps you compile spreadsheets, assess profit margin and calculate tax payments with added clarity.

That’s why an experienced accountant is highly recommended. You can concentrate on building the company whilst they take care of the monotonous financial records.

However, with a large number of accountants available, how do you find the most suitable one for your requirements? We’ve put together a few queries every small business owner should consider.

Personal Relationship

It’s a simple fact of life that you’ll get on with some people better than others – this is no different when selecting an accountant. Remember, this relationship will hopefully last the lifespan of your business, requiring plenty of dialogue along the way. You really want someone who you click with on a personal level.  

Cost

Various accountants charge individual fees depending on your requirements. Scout around to gather an idea of the general cost and avoid being overcharged. Likewise, it’s also best to negotiate a fixed fee for their services as opposed to an hourly rate which can spiral out of control in some cases.

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Competency

No matter the cost, if the accountant can add value to your company then the initial outlay will be worth it; you’ll be saving money in the long run and even reduce tax payments. However, you must ensure a level of competency is in place, along with a proven track record of supporting small business. To achieve this, complete due diligence during the research phase.  

Research

Meet at least three different accountants before settling on one. Check reviews online for any signs of malpractice or foul play – poor workmanship or excessive fees are likely to be flagged up somewhere. Also, ask friends or business associates for their advice. Customer testimonials are perhaps the best sign of a decent accountancy firm.

Qualifications

Furthermore, it’s imperative you find an accountant with the relevant qualifications that are regulated by a professional body. An AAT qualification is a minimum requirement, with further diplomas from ACA, ACCA or CIMA also to be commended. Check the relevant websites for confirmation of their credentials.

Extra Mile

As well as the basic accountancy advice, see what additional services the accountant can offer. This could be in relation to tax relief schemes, government grants, selling shares and various other cost cutting measures. Also enquire how responsive they are – delayed email replies or postponed meetings should be an early warning sign, for example.

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In reality, most small business owners aren’t proficient dealing with complex accountancy and tax figures. There’s nothing wrong with this; your main motivation is likely based around growing the business itself. Specialised accountancy advice should therefore be sought from an early stage.

Here at DLR Accountants we’ll ensure your business model stays financially sound, saving you plenty of time and effort in the process. For further information, please feel free to get in touch.  
While you’re looking for an accountant, you might want to consider firms that use cloud based systems. We’ve taken a look at whether it’s worth moving to cloud accounting.

Is It Worth Moving to Cloud Accounting?

Cloud accounting has proven increasingly popular in recent years. It allows companies to store data off-site on remote servers in a bid to save time and money. There are plenty of cloud-based software options out there, each with various features that will suit different business models.

Some technical aspects of installing and using the software can be complicated so manual assistance may still be required. If you’re unsure of anything, a professional accountancy firm will be able to advise which programme is best suited and how it will operate long term.  

What is Cloud-Based Accounting?

Instead of storing accountancy data on an internal spreadsheet system, everything is held off-site on remote servers. By setting up an account and password, only your employees will have access to this data which can also be automated if necessary.

As you’d expect, cloud services come at an added cost depending on the service needed. Subscription packages are popular as in most cases they are usage-based. Likewise, you can add certain features tailored to your business requirements. These could include:

  • Sending invoices and notes
  • Adding payroll details
  • Reconciling bank transactions
  • Managing VAT online
  • International payments

Most cloud accounting software comes with mobile apps where you can manage your accountancy data on-the-go. There are hundreds of additional apps that can assist with tasks such as invoicing, time management and currency conversion.

Benefits

There are various reasons for moving your accounts to a cloud-based system, perhaps the main one being security. A system crash won’t erase all your files as the information is stored on the cloud-server. Similarly, you’re also protected against fire damage and theft.

It also provides greater cohesion within your organisation, allowing staff to access the same information online. This is especially useful if your business comprises of various branches that work from the same figures. Cross-department efficiency will be greatly improved.  

Cloud software is automated so the system will be updated as and when information is received. This makes real-time reporting far more reliable than with a manually-updated spreadsheet.   

As everything is done online, your own storage network won’t be affected. Any updates will be provided by your cloud-service provider, reducing hassle and the further expense of installing new software on individual desktop computers.

When it comes to conversing with clients, you can explain what the numbers actually mean and identify problems with greater clarity. This helps you advise on business decisions and prepare growth strategies, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and increased profits for your company.  

Is Cloud Accounting Worth It?

In an increasingly online-dominated world, the move to cloud accounting makes sense. As human error is reduced, input efficiency will improve and boost overall productivity. There’s less need to worry about security, whilst installations and updates will be taken by the service provider.

However, with many cloud-based packages available online, it’s recommended to shop around before making a decision. For further advice, a professional accountant can point you in the right direction. You can speak to an accountant at DLR Accountants for advice on this.

Cloud accountancy is one way that accountants are going paperless. But there are potential pitfalls that need to be avoided.

How to Save Money on Your Business Bank Account

Although business bank accounts aren’t a legal requirement for start-ups, you’ll find it difficult to manage your affairs without one. Not all are the same however, so it’s within your best interests to find a deal most suitable for your business model.

Banks offer various sweeteners to attract you to their branch, although there are also charges (and sometimes hidden charges) to contend with too. To ensure you don’t pay over the odds, it’s perhaps best to speak to your accountant before a decision is made.

Efficient saving is the key to a successful company, no matter how big or small. To help you achieve this, here are some ways to save money on your business bank account.

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Business Bank Accounts

Although not compulsory, business bank accounts are strongly advised for starting a new company. They present a professional appearance and help keep your personal and business matters separate – this is primarily useful when dealing with the HMRC.

The best advice is to use comparison websites to find the best deal for your personal circumstances, although remember to read the small print and enquire about any hidden charges. Here are some other things to look out for:

  • Free day-to-day banking is usually offered for start-ups over a limited time, often set between 12 to 24 months. Unlimited transactions can be made without a service fee, although you’ll automatically be transferred to one of their set tariffs once expired.
  • Some banks offer reduced monthly fees depending on how much you deposit into the account – the more you put in, the less you’ll have to pay in charges. If you’re expecting large regular payments, a deal of this nature will lower your outgoings.  
  • Depending on the type of business, interest rates could be a deciding factor. Accountancy advice is recommended when choosing between fixed and variable APR rates due to environmental market conditions.
  • Look out for ATM withdrawal fees. If you do need to make cash withdrawals, take out larger cash sums on a less frequent basis to avoid regular charges.
  • There are usually increased penalties for using cheques and they can cause unnecessary havoc if declined. Automated online payments, both sending and receiving, are far easier and an expected facility in the modern business world.    
  • For SMEs or start-ups, it’s likely you’ll need to use an overdraft at some point. If so, shop around to see which lenders offer the most lenient overdraft facility and lowest APR rate. Do not exceed your overdraft limit as the charges can really mount up.
  • Watch out for headline offers that can be misleading. Although the initial benefits could be tempting, you may be tied down to an expensive long-term contract with an awkward get-out clause.  

 

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When it comes to your business bank account, the best advice is to shop around using price comparison websites and seek advice from your accountant if necessary. Remember your own personal bank may not offer the best business deal and initial bonus offers could be costly in the long run.

Efficient spending practice is also vital in reducing business costs. Evaluate all your outgoings and assess which areas can be tightened up. If you need help doing so, we’re happy to share our expertise.

To have a chat and get some advice, get in touch.

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