That’s my reaction when I hear people rambling on about finances and accounting.
You’ve started a Limited Company - not got a job with HMRC.
Who wants to talk about tax, loans and debt at the end of the day, anyway?
Definitely not me.
Accounting is not only boring to talk about, but it’s also boring to do.
I know you agree.
You wouldn’t be here otherwise.
"But Amber, isn’t hiring an accountant expensive?"
Well, not if you know where to look!
"But surely it’s something I can do myself?"
You don’t really think that, do you?
Unless your last job was as a trained accountant, it’s not something I would ever suggest doing on your own.
It’s not a job you can take on, like answering your own phone, or running the company’s social media.
It actually requires an extremely high level of knowledge and skill to handle properly.
You need qualifications, experience, and to be recognised by your countries accountancy bodies.
It really isn’t something just anyone in your company can run.
And anyway, as I said before, they’re not even expensive.
(I’m talking cheap as chips!)
Even if you decided to hire the most expensive accountant in the world, they would still be miles cheaper than the fines you’d have to pay if you made one teeny-tiny mistake.
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.
We had a client once, who had worked with the accountant we’d found for them for almost 10 years.
Not too long ago, last year actually, they decided they didn’t need to work with them anymore as they were convinced they could do it themselves.
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Tax season came around, and they filed incorrectly - (all they’d done wrong was forget a to record a payment).
Because they were so used to their accountant handling all their correspondence, they forgot to reply to letters from HMRC, too.
The fine they received was...scary.
I’m talking an uncomfortable number of zeros.
It almost bankrupted them!
I had to resist the urge to shout ‘I told you so’ when they came begging for our help again.
We managed to find them a low-cost accountant - they couldn’t afford their old one after the fine.
And guess what.
That accountant reduced their operating costs by almost 43%!
This major saving meant that they weren’t having to spend all their income on just running their business (which wouldn’t have worked in the long run).
They actually managed to regain their lost profit - from having to pay the fine - in less a month.
It’s not too late for you though…
You don’t have to face a major loss to realise you need an accountant.
We can help you, well, before you need help.
After all, you don’t put on a life jacket after you’ve fallen off the boat, do you?
You need one.
But I know that me just telling you that isn’t enough of a reason for you to leave the office and hunt one down right now.
Let’s fill you in a little bit more.
There are actually three main reasons that people choose to hire an accountant.
They either want to make more money…
Or, they want to save some.
Or - the unfortunate third reason - they’ve lost all their money somehow, and are hiring an accountant as a last resort.
Whatever the reason you’ve decided you need one is, you definitely want to maximise profits and minimise costs/loss, right?!
Well, an accountant can help you do just that.
And so much more.
No one ever thinks they need an accountant.
Our clients usually tell us they think the service just isn’t worth paying for.
“I can count, can’t I? Why on earth would I pay someone else to do it?”
But an accountant isn’t just a glorified mathematician.
They can do so much more than bog-standard calculations.
There are actually 3 major ways an accountant can help your Limited Company!
They Can Maximise Deductions Significantly
It’s almost the worst time of the year.
And when you work out how much tax you owe - woah, how much?
You want to cut it down, right?
Well, an accountant can do just that!
If there’s a way of deducting £2 on that coffee you bought three months ago, your accountant will know about it.
All those little savings (and the big ones) add up quite quickly - and can reduce your tax bill by quite a lot.
And who doesn’t love saving money, after all?
They Can Fool-Proof Your Future Plans
So, your company is doing pretty well, right?
That’s great news.
But will this still be the cause in a year's time?
There’s no way of knowing how the money you spend now will affect you in the future.
...Or is there?
You want to be prepared for any upcoming issues, right?
Or receive advice on how to avoid a major loss?
Lucky for you, your accountant is here to save the day!
An accountant can help you plan for the future, by predicting profit increases or any possible losses.
They can even predict how a certain purchase will affect your finances next month - or even next year!
Being aware of your financial data in advance, leaves you room to alter the outcome!
They Allow You To Refocus
Let’s be honest:
Do you really want to spend hours upon hours completing financial reports?
Didn’t think so.
You’d rather spend that time talking to customers, right?!
Hiring an accountant will allow you to spend your time focusing on things that matter - like growing your business!
That’s where you’re wrong.
Surprisingly, they don’t cost a lot at all.
The growing number of online accountants - and the number of entrepreneurs that (try to) do their own finances - has actually forced traditional accountants to lower their prices quite significantly.
Due to the lack of advanced equipment they possess, a traditional accountant usually takes a little longer to sort your finances.
They still get the job done, but it may take them around 3 days longer than online accountants to do it.
For a big enough price drop, I’d definitely consider taking the longer approach.
Though online accountants do charge a little more, what’s an extra £50 if it guarantees you faster delivery, and access to higher-tech equipment?
Plus, due to the fact they’re working online, they usually know a lot more about digital laws!
Read More: Wikipedia on Accountants
It’s pretty clear that both types have their pros and cons, and their prices can vary by quite a lot.
For the most part, they both give you the option for adjustable fees.
That means they work around you, your budget, and your needs!
Obviously, you want to know more about how the price you’re charged can be affected.
Well, here are 5 things that can affect your final cost:
Full Time Or Part Time?
You don’t need an accountant at your disposal 24/7, do you?
I mean, come on!
You can’t have that many receipts to count.
Did you know that not all accountants work full time?
You can actually hire one to work for you part-time!
So, if you only need them a few days a month, you can pay them as and when you need them!
A great, low-budget option!
After all, they’re not going to charge you a month’s worth of fees if they’re only working three days.
(They’d be really mean if they did).
And if you hire a virtual assistant that specializes in accounting, you could even hire one for just one hour!
If you have a tight budget, or just don’t require their services very often, this is definitely the way to go.
Online Or Traditional?
When you picture an accountant, what do you see?
An old guy in a room with a calculator?
Yep, me too. But it’s time to forget the stereotype.
You can also hire an online accountant - who are usually working with a lot of high tech systems.
Both the old guy (okay, kidding - get that image out your head) and the online accountant get you the same result at the end of the day.
But, a traditional accountant usually takes a bit longer to complete the task.
Lucky for you though, that means a cheaper price!
And the discount is definitely worth your finances taking a few days longer to complete!
The Amount Of Work Required
Well, this one’s obvious.
Are you asking them to complete all your accountancy work for the next 10 years, or just help you complete one tax return?
The more work you give them, the more they’ll charge you - duh!
The Time It Takes To Complete
Recording your finances isn’t an easy job.
Because there’s so much information your accountant needs to take a note of - and pay attention to in fine detail - it’s incredibly time-consuming.
If they believe recording your finances will be particularly lengthy, you’ll definitely be charged more!
Plus, if you’re not on a fixed contract, and your project overruns - even by a day - you could be charged an extra fee!
Whether You Require A Fixed Fee Or Not
Most clients seem to prefer a fixed fee - which is totally fine!
But it is a little risky for the accountant.
Because, if your project takes longer than usual, they’re losing out on extra money!
Which is why accountants usually charge a little more for fixed costs - to protect themselves.
You know what’s worse than accounting?
Limited Company accounting.
That’s because it actually requires so much more responsibility than regular accounting.
From filing accounts with Companies House, to frequently contacting HMRC - the tasks an accountant has to complete each tax year are, well...
That’s what it feels like anyway.
But anyway, enough moaning.
Let’s take a look at some of the things an accountant can do for your Limited Company!
This is where your accountant finally reaches their full form, becoming a maths superhero. They’re basically gathering a collection of evidence of money you’ve received and money you’ve spent. If you’re a great client, this just means they’ll be searching through your books for any inaccuracies. If you’re a not-so-great client, they’re probably crawling through your bins looking for receipts instead.
God, this is tedious. Plus, one wrong mistake and your entire team of staff will be on your back until you fix it. So, why not put the blame on someone else? Kidding! You won’t actually have any blame to put on anyone if you hire a trained accountant! It’ll actually almost eradicate the chance of mistakes - win!
Submitting VAT Returns
If you’re not VAT registered, feel free to skip this part. If you are VAT registered, you can also skip this part - you don’t need to do it, not when your accountant is doing it for you! They’ll take a look at your purchases, and figure out how much VAT you have to pay HMRC, and take care of the job for you. There we go, one less boring job on your to-do-list.
Deal With Companies House
No one likes talking to Companies House, do they? I don’t know what it is… I guess it’s like walking past a policeman in the supermarket. You always feel nervous, even when you haven’t done anything wrong. One of our clients hated dealing with Companies House so much, it was the only reason they hired an accountant! Crazy, isn’t it? Anyway…
I know what you’re thinking now.
“Is that all I get?”
Of course it isn’t!
You really think I’d leave you with just the basics?!
I’ve even been nice and made you a little list of things they can offer.
Be warned though…
These may be charged as extra services.
You’ll have to discuss what the accountant you choose offers before you officially hire them!
They can actually help you form your limited company, if you haven’t already done so!
They can become your ‘official office’, and require all your correspondence be sent straight to them.
They can actually complete tax returns for your employee’s - there we go, a benefit for everyone!
Need to buy a new office space? Well, they can actually provide a reference for any mortgage applications you apply for!
Choosing the right accountant is essential.
Choose the wrong one and they could end up being as bad as… well, you.
Sorry, not sorry.
(You know it’s true.)
Anyway, here’s my top 4 tips for choosing a great accountant!
Check Their Qualifications
Anyone can call themselves an expert accountant.
Heck, I could decide to wake up and call myself one tomorrow if I wanted.
That’s why it’s so important to check qualifications before you hire someone - to weed out the people lying on their CVs!
Find the accredited accountancy body in your area, and check whether they’re registered too!
Make Sure They’re Willing To Travel
Okay, this isn’t always an issue.
If their office is next to yours, the two-second walk is never going to be an issue.
But, if you’re hiring an online accountant/virtual accountant, there’s a chance you’re hiring from further afield.
If you require face-to-face time, but realise a lengthy trip has to occur for that to happen, you need to discuss a plan of action.
See if they’re willing to travel to you, or cover the expenses of you going to see them - the journey may not be worth it otherwise.
Check Their Recommendations
“Wow - this firm looks amazing!”
“And look at all that they can do for my business at such a low price!”
“Hmm, how peculiar… They don’t have any reviews …”
Drop the mouse, and back away from the laptop.
This is a scam.
It may not be as scammy as it seems, but it’s worth checking what other people think of them first!
Find Out If You Have To Do Anything Yourself
This is less of an issue with traditional accountants, but quite a frequent one with online accountants.
A lot of them expect you to do the bookkeeping work yourself.
Which isn’t a major problem!
But it is quite annoying - you’ve hired them to save you from all the boring jobs after all.
Before you hire an accountant, clarify whether bookkeeping is an additional charge, or something added into your package.
Yes, an accountant is there to take care of your finances.
But you don’t have to make their job a living hell.
Please, please don’t be one of those people who keep their receipts in a shoebox in the garage.
So, ensure you keep clear copies of everything you need for each financial report in easy to find places, to make your accountant’s job easier.
Here are some things you need to keep track of, and hand over to your accountant as requested!
Income & Expenditure Reports
Here are some things you need to keep track of, and hand over to your accountant as requested!
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Depending on what sort of business you run, you may have work that hasn’t been completed by the time you need to file your accounts/create a report. Let your accountant know, so they’re not searching for any money you think you’ve lost.
An accountant will need to see information on everything your company owns - from the equipment you use, to the building you work in. Keep this stuff in a separate folder though, as it won’t be accessed as much as most of the other information you need to keep on file!
Whether it’s money you owe, or an investment, your accountant needs to know what you spent and when you spent it. They can make a pretty good guess as to when it will be paid off, and how you can bring that date closer.
Let me see…
They’re essential and they’re inexpensive…
How do you not already have an accountant?
And I know you don’t want to risk losing your business over a misjudged calculation.
So, cut the worry out of your finances by hiring an accountant today.
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