20 reasons why you should look for a new business accountant
by Christian Borkowski
Finding the right accountant to help out with your business’ financials is no easy task. While it’s easy to check their qualifications, it’s harder to know whether they’ll be the right ‘fit’ for your business. And just because an accountant is perfect for another business doesn’t mean it will be perfect for yours. It really depends on what you want out of the relationship.
And for those of you who’ve been in business for years and used the same accountant from day one, I’d wipe that smug look off your face if I were you. Why? Because you may have made a very bad choice.
Sure, they may have kept you in the tax department’s good books, and even helped you get every deduction under the sun. But the best accountants don’t help you record history.
They help you make it.
Focus on the road ahead
Don’t get me wrong. Meeting your tax obligations is an essential part of business. And you should always be looking for ways to maximise your profits. Having your accountant focusing on what’s already happened in your business is like looking in the rear-view mirror while you’re driving. It’s not only pointless, but also quite dangerous.
A good accountant focuses on your business’ future, not its past. They’ll learn about your business goals and where you want it to go, and then come up with plans to help you get there. Yes, they may occasionally look back to make sure nothing’s wrong (e.g. smoke pouring out of the exhaust). But they’ll spend most of the time looking at the road ahead—the road that leads to your business’ financial success.
So instead of just lodging your tax return to keep the ATO happy, they’ll also help you with things such as:
- minimising your tax
- protecting your assets
- improving your profits and cash flow
- building a valuable asset that’s ‘sale ready’
- implementing accounting systems that make your life easier
- creating a business that gives the time and money to support your personal goals.
Keep track of where you are (and where you want to be)
Imagine you’re about to drive off to somewhere new. You punch the address into your GPS, and off you go. But instead of constantly telling you which roads you need to take, your GPS only gives you an update if:
- you push a button to request one
- you’re more than a hundred kilometres off course.
Pretty useless, right?
So how often does your accountant get in touch with you? Once a year at tax time? When there’s an issue with your finances? Sorry, but if that’s the case they’re about as useful as that GPS.
As well as helping you comply with your reporting obligations, your accountant should be helping you:
- set and monitor both your business and personal goals
- create wealth
- keep as much of that wealth as possible.
And the only way they can do that is to be proactive.
Don’t tell us you’re proactive—show it!
A lot of accountants will tell you they’re proactive (“We are a proactive firm”, “We pride ourselves on being proactive”, etc.) But that’s like someone telling you they’re funny. To have any credibility they have to prove it (by making you laugh).
And it’s the same with being proactive. Unless they’re calling you regularly to stay in touch, offer new solutions and keep your business heading in the right direction they’re being reactive, no matter what it says on their website.
And if your accountant is reactive, then it’s probably time to start looking for another accountant.
What a difference a little proactivity makes
Here are 20 ways a proactive accountant differs from a reactive one. Read them all, and then ask yourself this question: “Is my accountant really being proactive?”
|With reactive accountants…||With proactive accountants…|
|1||You call them when you have an issue.||They call you regularly and ‘check in’ on how you’re going.|
|2||You visit them only when you have to.||They visit you at no charge.|
|3||You only see or hear from them when something bad has happened.||You hear from them frequently about all sorts of issues, ideas and opportunities.|
|4||They don’t have a regular communication program. (It’s almost a surprise when they contact you.)||They have a structured communication program that does not cost you anything.|
|5||They charge you for nearly every phone call, email and quick meeting—all in 6-minute ‘units’ of time.||They don’t charge for these small matters because they know how annoying it would be.|
|6||They don’t understand your business or situation, and take little interest in you.||They understand your business/situation, and are very interested in your welfare.|
|7||They give you a bill after the work is done, which is often a nasty surprise.||They price the project before starting, and advise how much it will be and what’s involved.|
|8||You receive surprise bills from the tax department that you don’t understand.||They have advised you of forthcoming tax bills well in advance, so they’re no surprise to you.|
|9||They never ask for client feedback about their service levels.||They ask for your opinion on how they can deliver a higher quality service.|
|10||They talk more than you do in meetings—always offering solutions before the real issue is uncovered.||They listen more than you do in meetings, and ask probing questions to get to the heart of the issue before they offer the solution.|
|11||They tell you what to do.||They tell you what to do and how to do it.|
|12||They don’t tell you what to send in each year, or what format it should be in.||They send you checklists, and work with you to get all the information they need in one go.|
|13||They only offer what you legally have to buy – compliance services that add minimal value.||They offer a range of business improvement and wealth/asset services suited to your goals.|
|14||They let you send in your work whenever you’re ready.||They tell you when you need to send in your work so it can be processed in a timely manner.|
|15||They don’t ask when you need information or jobs completed—they just assume.||They arrange a deadline with you as to when the information/project needs to be completed.|
|16||They ‘pre-judge’ what services you need.||They ask questions to determine what you need.|
|17||You don’t have a very good relationship with them.||They make an effort to enhance their relationship with you.|
|18||You have no idea what value they add.||They articulate the value that they add.|
|19||They don’t explain your work to you. They just send it to you—often without any explanation.||They step you through what it all means and where the money went, and help you interpret your situation.|
|20||They virtually say, “Good luck. You’re on your own”.||They help you achieve your financial goals step-by-step.|
Find out what a proactive accountant can do for you.
Want to know what a truly proactive accountant can do for you? Download our factsheet, which you’ll find on the Business Ontrack section of our website. And if you’d like to talk to us about where you are now and where you want to be, get in touch with us today to arrange a complimentary meeting.
Let’s get your business back on the road and heading towards financial success.