When you make the decision to set up a limited company, one of the first things you should do is seek the services of an accountant to help you deal with the financial side of your business.
Although many people worry about keeping their finances in order when they go it alone, choosing a contractor accountant who is right for you can make the whole process much easier.
Here are the main things to consider:
Pick a specialist
There are thousands of accountants out there to choose from but the first step in narrowing it down is to focus on those who are genuine specialists in contractor affairs.
Yes, it might be easier to pop down the road and choose the high street business local to you – but do they have the right knowledge around the things that will impact on you and your company?
Look for an accountant who deals solely – or mostly – with other contractors and understands current issues such as IR35.
You want to be working with someone who assists people like yourself on a daily basis and will help you on your journey thanks to their expertise.
When choosing a contractor accountant, it’s also worth checking that they have the correct qualifications and are registered with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Know what you want – and do your research
Focusing on specialist accountants will help you narrow the field but there’s still hundreds of firms out there vying for your custom – and money.
Spend time making a very specific list of what you want and find the firms that will match that exactly.
Then look at things like what they charge, how local they are to you and whether they offer anything extra that will be a bonus to you and your company before making a shortlist and contacting them.
Their response, including how long they take to get back to you, should help you make a decision on who will be best placed to deal with your needs.
Most accountants will have reviews and testimonials on their websites – while these are useful, the best way to find out what they are really like is to speak to others who have used them.
Word of mouth remains one of the best methods to choosing a contractor accountant and finding someone you can trust, so ask around to check if anyone has any good recommendations.
Make sure you know what you are getting
Most specialist contractor accountants charge a monthly fee – usually ranging from around £70 to £150 – but the key is making sure you know what you are getting for that money.
Generally speaking, the price should include your annual accounts, tax returns, self-assessment, payroll and dealing with VAT, all of which will take away a lot of hassle from your side of things.
Be very clear about what you expect for your fees if you don’t want to receive an unexpected bill at the end of the month.
Think about the practicalities
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a contractor accountant is how they will fit in with your needs.
Do you want someone who will be available over the telephone whenever you need them or would you prefer regular face-to-face meetings?
Do they have an office near to you and if not, are they prepared to travel to your location? Will you be given a dedicated account manager or will you be expected to speak to a different person each time?
These might seem like fairly small things but can make a big difference – and could be the deciding factor in two accountants who otherwise offer a similar package.
The right accountant should be an asset to your business and in reality will pay for themselves by saving you time and dealing with your finances in a way that is beneficial for you.
However, if you aren’t happy or feel you aren’t getting the service you agreed on then remember you can walk away.
Like most services we use these days, changing to a new provider can be time-consuming but is more than worth it in the end.
Having your own limited company means that the finances become your responsibility, but with the right research and planning choosing a contractor accountant should be the first step to a stress-free way of life.
If you have any questions about the contractor accountant services we offer, why not get in touch today?