As a business owner, you should have a financial advisor – and your business needs will impose it sooner or later – but how do you choose one?
Obtaining an accounting advisor, especially for those who have started a business, is not a banal matter. Not only because it is not free, and you do not want to throw away your money, but because you will be exposing something as important as the accounts of your company to another person.
There are a few business owners who might consider using accounting software initially, without an accountant, but accountants have professional and human qualities which are irreplaceable by software. The reality is that financial advisors and programs are not incompatible, they are actually great allies.
But let’s focus now on the ideal advisor, the one who will help you make those critical decisions at key moments in your business.
- Your advisor should be accredited
In the UK there are formal authorities which accredit and authorise accountants, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Ensure your advisor is an accredited professional accountant, which guarantees a certain level of quality, trust and competence.
- Research accounting associations, other professionals, and social networks
The aforementioned accounting bodies are a reference. But they are not enough, because the list of potential candidates is not short, and you need to refine, filter, and compile a shortlist of suitable accountants to consider.
If you know other business owners who work with accounting agencies or advisors, consult them. And if you are in the same business sector, any reference or recommendation will be even more valuable, because the advisor will be more familiar with the sector.
Professional social networks like LinkedIn can help you to contact accountants directly and examine their previous experience.
- Does geography matter?
Many freelancers and entrepreneurs are looking for an accountant or financial advisor that is just around the corner. However, nowadays, with internet and accounting programs in the cloud, geography should not be a criterion of great weight; you can be located anywhere in the UK and yet have central London accountants carry out your accounting services.
In addition, many online collaboration tools make it easy to work hand in hand with your advisor, allowing you either to download your accounting information or access it in the easiest way: working directly with the same application.
- Interview different candidates
It is your business! So whenever possible, go meet the candidates in person. It is not just about making sure that your future advisor complies with the fundamental criteria of a professional accounting advisor (technical competence and experience, etc.), but also of “connecting” with them, and seeing if you are a good fit for each other.
At the end of the day you should work together, even if it is at a distance, which is how great relationships sometimes work best.
- Divide the tasks and negotiate the conditions
More and more small business owners want to better understand the financial health of their business and manage their accounts better, so the figure of the traditional accounting consultant is evolving into a collaborative relationship.
Assign all the accounting tasks to your advisor you are uncomfortable dealing with, either because of time or inexperience. The more involved your advisor is the better they will be able to advise you on financial decisions regarding your business. However, clearly, the more involvement of your advisor, the higher the cost will be.
Finally, remember that a good accountant and financial advisor can be a great asset to your business. So, focus on it as an investment in your business and not simply as an expense.