Questions to ask your accountant at your first meeting

Whether you are a start-up company or an established firm looking for new professional services finding an accountant can be a daunting and challenging task.

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There are, however, questions you will want to prepare for the first discussions you have with a potential adviser.

Firms and services

At the beginning you will want to ensure that the firms you are approaching are members of a professional body and properly regulated. If you are based in England or Wales information can be found via the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Wherever you are searching for accountants in Cheltenham, Chorley or Cardiff you will find information about firms and the services they offer at sites such as

Once you have decided on a potential company make an appointment to discuss your needs and how they might help. Begin by being clear about what you are looking for from your accountant. Does your company trade internationally, do you work in a specialist market, do you need regular management accounts or simply need a professional to produce annual accounts? Once you are clear on these issues you are ready to prepare questions for your accountant.

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You may like to know how long they have been in business, and whether they have a client list which includes firms of a similar size to you. This will ensure they understand the problems you are likely to face. Do not be afraid to ask for references, ideally from firms of a similar size to your own. If the company is at all reluctant you should keep the meeting short.

Get assurances that you will have a dedicated point of contact and accountant who deals with your accounts. It is important to have a good relationship with your accountant and communicate well. Check how they are likely to liaise with you and how many face-to-face meetings you can expect.

Test your potential accountants’ knowledge of your industry by asking for thoughts on any unclaimed deductions that may be relevant to your firm. If you draw a blank it may suggest they are not the best fit for you.

Finally, make sure you are clear about how fees will be calculated.

Hopefully, this will be a long-term relationship, so take time to make sure you make the right decision.