Choosing an accountant in London — or anywhere for that matter — should not be taken lightly. Not only does one need to find a firm that is knowledgeable about current accounting best practices and the latest changes to tax laws (for example, ways to claim back VAT), but finding people you will be comfortable working closely with over the long-term is also very important. An accountancy firm will, in many ways, become your business partner — intimate with the details of your operations and a trusted source of advice and support.
A good accounting firm, especially in a city as economically active as London, will have other clients — but not too many for its staff to handle. There will be times when you will need information quickly and require going to the front of the queue. Of course, their other clients will demand the same treatment, so make sure a company whose services you are interested in can handle your requirements.
One of the most important things your accountant will do is badger you to keep your tax records and filings current. This is one of the most common things that small businesses, when left to their own devices, neglect. Realize that having matured to the point that your business is ready to take on an accountant means you need to follow through on their prodding so as to be better organized and forward thinking.
Some things to think about when beginning the search for an accountant:
- The Interview Process
- What Services They Offer
Once you’ve done some research and made a select list of potential firms, it’s time to really weigh the strengths of the companies in question and deliberate about whether they are what your company requires. In-person interviews to gauge how personalities and skills mesh are always recommended. This is the time to really imagine working closely with the people on the other side of the table and better understand the background and skills of your potential hire.
Like any business, accounting firms have their areas of specialty and expertise. Depending on the internal structure of your business, you may or may not need traditional bookkeeping services (though even if you handle that in-house, an accountant should review your practices to ensure accuracy and proper record keeping). But if you need expert advice on employment taxes or reclaiming VAT, then make sure the firm you’re considering has those capabilities.
Obviously, you’ll want to thoroughly go through the fee structure that the accounting firm requires. Most accountants have an array of service packages and billing cycles they can offer to provide enough flexibility to match your needs and cash flow realities. Detailed terms of agreement — with rates and fees clearly defined prior to commencing work — are obviously required.
Running a business in London is hectic and challenging. A good accounting firm will make it easier and more secure.