We’ve all cherished the stereotypical idea of an accountant sitting in a lonesome office crunching away at numbers for hours on end, but this is just not true anymore for the modern-day accountant. Although there are many accountants out there who still practice accounting from the Jurassic period, I think there are some traits of an accountant all business owners should be looking for when selecting an accountant and what signs you should look out for if your accountant is a dinosaur:
Read more: 3 Steps to Reducing Your Accounting Fees
Signs of a Dinosaur Accountant
1. You See Them Once a Year
He/she sees you once a year during tax time and essentially collates all your paperwork from a shoebox.
2. They Refused to Use New Technology
All great accountants are now moving towards a more cloud-based style of accounting that allows for live financial reporting and management. This also means reduced time dealing with mountains of paperwork and more time on finding methods to minimise tax and maximise business growth. If your accountant isn’t using Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB (or another type of software) and using excel/paper, then you should be worried. You’ll find that as they have no access to live data, they’re giving you recommendations based on historical financial data rather than live data.
3. They’re Highly Reactive
You spend a lot of time giving them problems and asking for advice on solutions rather than your accountant providing you with solutions before you even knew about the problem. You’ll find that they often-times just focus on telling you how much tax you’re up for paying before anything else!
4. Poor Network Contacts
They’re your classic accountant pigeoned into a shoe-box office crunching numbers all day. New school accountants have a vast and varied network of industry partners whom they can call upon as advisors to help give you guidance. This may include recommendations for mortgage brokers, lawyers, financial planners and many other specialists that can assist your business.
Signs of a Great Accountant
1. Good Communicators
You’d be surprised at the number of clients who have switched over to us simply because their accountant doesn’t respond to their emails or phone calls. However, a great accountant takes it further when they can communicate esoteric ideas and concepts into something easy to understand for you. They should be a wealth of knowledge that you can access to expand your knowledge on how to run your business.
2. Strong Ethics & Integrity
These are highly valued characteristics you should be looking for with your accountant. Are they recommending the right (and legal) things to do? Do they display integrity in the way they conduct their business and consulting for yours? In essence, can you trust them to look after your business accounting without you conducting due diligence on their work? If you hesitate or the answer is no, then it may time to look for another accountant.
3. Accurate Work
Similar to the point above, can you entrust that they will do the work accurately? One wrong digit or misplacement of a comma can result in huge financial risk for your business. Therefore, attention to detail is an imperative skill-set for an accountant.
4. Strong Organisational & Time Management Skills
There is a heavy reliance on accountants to deliver information or meet deadlines that can have negative consequences on your business if this is not done n a timely manner. Often, this means pulling together information from multiple sources. If your current accountant is taking up more time from you now than before, then it’s clear that they have poor organisational and time management skills. Being organised with a structured system that makes things easy for both you and your accountant is key in ensuring this happens.
5. Constant Improvement & Innovation
Just like lawyers, business and tax law is constantly changing. Staying abreast on all this and learning the latest best accounting practice ensures that your business is doing the right thing. Are they using the latest cloud-based technology to improve efficiency? Are they attending conferences and seminars to improve their knowledge? Do they have a wide network of industry partners? These kinds of factors should play a part in identifying if they have a passion for the industry and are looking for constant improvements.
6. Service-Oriented Mindset
Are they paying attention to the needs of you as a client? Or are they going through the motions? A great accountant should understand your industry and provide bespoke advice according to the context of your business’ position in the industry. Do you also feel like you have a good rapport with them? Do you feel that they are invested in your business? Having an accountant with an entrepreneurial spirit and passion to see your business grow should be at the forefront of choosing a suitable accountant. On the flip side, a poor accountant generally charges you each time you ask for advice and clock-watches constantly when having meetings with their clients.
A great accountant who has most, if not all, these characteristics is essentially a business partner for life. They’re someone who can provide you with the direction and guidance on making the best decisions for your business. Conversely, a poor accountant can be a heavy anchor for your business. At Box Advisory Services, I try to ensure that my team and I uphold as much of these traits as possible. This seems to be working as we retain over 90% of our clients and are constantly being referred to new clients. With the use of the latest cloud-based technology and providing tailored advice to our clients, we believe that this approach can result in tremendous business growth and not only business partners, but friends for life. If you’re looking for a new accountant, simply book a free 45-minute appointment with us so that we can get to know your business better.
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