Is it time to change?
By Jana Ivanov
The most common complaints we hear from new clients coming to our firm are:
- My accountant takes too long to get back to me
- I think I could be doing more to manage my business better or save some tax, but my accountant isn’t teaching me
- My accountant has no idea about software options that could help me and my business
- It takes months for my accountant to complete the work I have given them
- I don’t think my accountant even understands my business
The decision to change accountants is not an easy one, after all, you may have shared years of financial intimacy with them. The problem is, if you’re enduring poor service and results just to avoid the hassle of changing accountants, you are simply delaying the new opportunities for your business and your family, which can ultimately cost you money.
You may have initially engaged a tax agent to comply with your ATO obligations, but this approach is simply looking in the rear-view mirror. As your business grows and evolves, you end up needing an accountant who can look forward down the road to assist with not only compliance, but broader advice also.
Many feel that changing accountants is simply too hard, however this could not be further from the truth. After reviewing the prior year’s financial statements and tax returns, and asking the right questions about matters specific to your situation, the new accountant may even have greater insights to your business operations than the previous accountant!
What should your accountant be doing?
Your accountant should be using their professional skills and knowledge from working with hundreds of other businesses to help you get the most out of yours. They can do this by:
- Reviewing your business structure to ensure they protect your assets and minimise your tax bill
- Providing a sounding board to bounce ideas off and provide insightful new perspective
- Keeping you up to date with new technology which can improve efficiencies in your business’s processes
- Introducing you to their network of other professionals and businesses
How do I change?
Find an accountant and book and initial meeting to get to know them. Ensure they want to understand your unique business and personal goals. Ask lots of questions and listen to your gut feeling, after all you want this new relationship to be valuable and continue for a long time.
Once you have found the right fit, it is best to let your previous accountant know you’re leaving. A good way to bring up the subject is to let them know your business is going through a stage of change and you have found an accountant who is in a better position to able to assist with these needs. If you have had a bad experience, it also gives you an opportunity to provide your previous accountant with some constructive feedback first hand.
Your new accountant will contact your previous accountant to obtain an ethical clearance letter, which is best practice in the industry, as well as copies of the relevant records pertaining to your business and personal financial affairs.