I think I need an accountant!(23 Posts)
I am new to the site and the forum so apologies if I break any protocol!
I have recently gone self employed after a couple of years off work bringing up kids etc. The work that I do has taken off somewhat and what was just a few hours every week has grown to the point where I will need to take on one or two other people, on a casual basis to help with the workload.
I have registered as self employed, but feel that now things are getting a bit more complicated I really need an accountant to help me set up a system and give advice on paying people on a casual basis and other matters.
On to my question, does anyone know the best way to find a suitable accountant? Is it best to go local (south London) or can these things be done remotely? Other than recommendation (which I don't have any of) how do you know that an accountant is going to be right for you? I understand I will need to meet them to ascertain that, but how do you get together a shortlist even?
Any advice would be greatly received.
If you can't see an obvious one locally then call Business Link and also the ICAEW (or look a their website where you can put in your postcode) this page
and ask them to recommend one suitable for your needs. I would imagine it could be done remotely but I guess local may be best to start with.
Oh thank you that is a really helpful point in the right direction. Thank you very much.
local would definately be best
Business Link is a good idea, or your bank manager might be able to recommend someone?
don't go big-4 as you don't need what they can offer and you don't want to pay their prices
personally i would look at bigger than one man bands, as while they are fine at the basics a bigger outfit can potentially give you a bit more advice.
Really, anyone holding themselves out as an accountant (assuming qualified - look for ACA, FCA, ACCA, FCCA after their name on business card) should be able to do a decent job of the accounts and tax - so go for someone that you like.
Many firms of accountants suitable for small businesses are not members of ICAEW so don't ask there.
I would definitley do this via your local Business Link, otherwise you are taking a shot in the dark. They give some advice here, but best to use their home page to find the local one and talk to them.
You need employers liability insurance for your casual workers, and you need to be aware of the requirements to check entitlement to work in the United Kingdom, the rights of all employees to a minimum wage, paid holiday etc., your obligations under Health and Safety legislation and the need to operate PAYE. Business Link can help you with all of this via the web site or in person.
To add to ChasingSquirrels post, the letters ACMA, FCMA or CA are also good.
YOu need someone physically local as you/they may need to pop in & out to do stuff.
In the absence of recommendations, I would shortlist 1) an established one man band 2)a small local co or two (or three) 3) a larger local co possibly with network contacts countrywide 4) another one man band who may be starting up and wanting clients
Find out who owuld be your contact and see how well you get on with them, their qualys, their tax knowledge, the otehr clients they service etc etc. But mainly, try and get a feel for how accessible/approachable they are.
is ACMA/FCMA CIMA?
what is CA?
Personally I wouldn't go with a CIMA qualified accountant for general practice, but I would say that!
(BE careful with ACMA/FCMA, ensure they have ATII as well ie tax qualy. Management accountants are likely to do less practical tax work in their training.)
What utter rubbish catinthehat2, you may as well say 'be careful with ACA as they will certainly have had no business experience in their training'. Most management accountants will have done a lot of practical work involving VAT whilst training, most chartered accountants will have done none.
And ATII is totally irrelevant, I passed my tax exams in 1992 and almost everything has changed since then.
I could go on but there is no point. Much more important than any particular letters (although they should be members of one of the professional bodies mentioned so that they are subject to some degree of supervision in practice, must have PII, a complaints/disciplinary procedure etc.) is that the person asks you the right questions, gives you the right answers and you get the right 'feel' that you can communicate with them well.
Does Op even really need an accountant ? not sure she does. In our local paper qualified accountants are advertising their services for £15 in surrey. Christ that is cheap !!
My best friend, who has worked in accounts for years, like me. she is aat qualified, doing CIMA, and has run her own book keeping and tax return business for years. she also has a p/t job for a company doing complicated consolidations, budgets etc.
someone like her could be perfect for op ? maybe ? give her such a personal servcie. pop round and help her setting up payroll, setting up accounts system, tax advice etc etc.
why not ?
if you need more complicated tax advice you could then go to an accountant.
I am ICAEW(ACA) 3/4 qualified !! so I do know a little bit about this kind of stuff.
Oblomov, I agree, with the proviso that if you are going to give advice on employing casual staff temporary employees on zero hours contracts you ought to be backed up by some regulation and PII. Many bookkeepers aren't.
All generalisations are false, including this one.
Ob's friend sounds like the sort of person you could get on a shortlist, genuine varied experience in cos like yours, and happy to refer to others for more complex advice on the things she is not set up to handle. And she doesn't come across as a twerp which is always a bonus!
Wow, thanks everyone, there is loads of great advice here. I definitely think Business Link will be my first port of call here, and I will take it from there. Originally I was thinking of one man band - retired or new mum type person, but it's just finding one!
Thanks again for all the great posts, your advice is invaluable. Sorry I wasn't around last night to respond sooner (I am an early bird!)
Oblomov, would you be happy for me to contact you regarding your friend? via the contact poster button?
Of course !!
I am in Surrey and my best friend is in Devon, near Paighton, so I don't think either of us could help you directly, but if you need advice, or any help at all, please ask away.
As Mr Anchovy says, both my friend and I are very over-qualified and have much more experience , than a basic book keeper. A basic one prob wouldn't be able to help, but one like us (hark at the sound of conceited ole me - but you get what I mean), are quite hard to come by.
I'd prob go for a very experienced/approachable/flexible bookkeeper type/management accountanty person.
They could set up systems, do the general monthly stuff and reporting and then just get a CA (Scotland?) or equiv to sign off at end of year and submit statutories.
I find most of my clients have big trouble getting their 'little' questions answered by their accountant - either a couple of days later or not at all!
I'd go to a networking type event or if you have friends in business - ask who they use - word of mouth recommendation I find best.
Hi Cazrana. I am an accountant in South West London but am not looking for work. However I do know friends who are qualified accountants and provide bookkeeping/ tax services. Cat me if you need recommandations.
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