You Need To Reconsider Your Relationship With Your Accountant

By admin Uncategorized 15 January, 2019

The start of the new year is a great time to review your accountants and decide whether they have your best interests at heart. You need to ask yourself the following:

  • Did you understand everything they explained in a satisfactory manner?
  • Do you frequently get nasty surprises when receiving invoices?
  • Are the fees increasing each year but the level of work stays the same?
  • Are they approachable?
  • Do they respond to your correspondence quickly?
  • Are they doing all they can to help your business or are they acting as a conduit for the ATO?

If you are happy with your responses to the above questions then that is all good but if answering these raised a skerrick of uncertainty then it is time to look elsewhere and find someone who is better suited to you and the way you do business.

Naturally people fear change but people successfully change advisors all of the time. Here are some additional things for you to consider. You should be extremely happy with your advisors, it is their job to give you a great experience and to WOW you!

“We have always used them and they have always done a great job”

This response is great as long as it is 100% true but it is imperative that you shop around to ensure you are actually getting the best deal with the best service rather than flying blind. People seek alternatives often most typically for energy, insurances and travel so it makes sense that you do the same with your professional service providers. I had a client once who said the same thing but upon examination of a couple of years of records it was apparent that he had overpaid $10 million in tax in the past twenty years, the time of his relationship with accountant who was doing a great job. He was also paying fees which were fairly over the top for the simple “regurgitation” of his management accounting reports.

Changing advisors takes too much time and it will take my focus off running my business

Changing advisors is very simple, you simply need to tell the incumbent to transfer what they have to your new advisor. I have seen situations where the incumbent attempts to make this difficult through charging spiteful fees on exit, holding onto files to attempt to hinder the progress of your work or simply trying to tell the client they are obliged to continue to use them. In reality these are bullying tactics and should actually make you feel more comfortable in your decision to move to less vindictive advisors. There are professional bodies as well as your legal advisors that can aid in this process should you have to deal with this sort of childish behaviour.

My accountants are only there to talk to the ATO on my behalf

If that is all they are doing then why are you paying them? Good accountants do much more than this and they can be a crucial part of your business’ success. I have always thought of a good accountant being like a boxing coach. You go and do what you need to do in the middle and then you check in periodically to assess how you are going and to ensure you are executing your strategy correctly. They are in your corner, they have your back and they are willing to get splattered if that’s what it takes to get you where you need to go. I’d prefer this rather than someone who just goes through the motions every trip around the sun.

I once took a junior accountant into a meeting with a client and when we left he said that he didn’t understand why we had the meeting as we didn’t discuss anything to do with tax. We discussed things such as cashflow, KPI’s, margins, customer relations, HR issues, how the family was and the state of most things in sport at that time. These are all very critical issues to a business which have nothing (directly) to do with the ATO. If your accountant is solely a conduit between you and the ATO then it is time for them to go.

There is no difference between one accountant and the next

Having worked with this industry, on both sides of the desk I can tell you this is not the case. As I have mentioned in the previous paragraph there’s accountants that are proactive and interested and then there is the guy who only deals with tax. Accountants have different personalities and you should be dealing with one who has a personality that you want to deal with.

The way in which I differentiate between this is the level or proactivity and suggestions that come to you unsolicited. Is your accountant the type to call or email saying “I just read an article and I thought about your situation and perhaps we should think about trying this” or “I have just come across a business for sale or an investment opportunity that perhaps you would like to consider”. The proactive advisor wins every time. Make sure your advisor is one of these.

I only need to see my accountant once a year. I just send in my information and they do it and send it back

I don’t buy into this as business is all about relationships. Having a great relationship with your accountant is very valuable, the better they know you then the better they can assist you. Most proactive accountants deal with hundreds of businesses each year and they can see what works and what does not. When they have a great relationship with you they can be very specific and provide quality advice pertinent to your exact circumstances as they have more than likely seen it before. Some accountants deal with hundreds of businesses each year yet they are only concerned with putting numbers into boxes. Get to know your accountant, business is about people not numbers.

There’s five important things to think about. If this prompts some action then act quickly and decisively and get on with moving your business to where it needs to be.

If you have concerns and you are not sure where to turn then get in touch with me. I have experienced life on both sides of the desk and I can provide very valuable assistance in relation to this.

I connect you to the people you need to be connected with.

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