Is your accountant not responding or taking far too long to get back to you?
We often have clients sign up for our services as a result of having a negative experience with their previous accountant. For example, we recently picked up a new client in the Formwork industry and when asking him about why he was changing accountants, he told us that he was a great accountant but never picked up his phone calls or returned emails or calls.
This is a lesson to anyone in the services industry that doing good work alone is not enough. Having someone who is personable, that will treat your business like their own, is extremely important.
Unfortunately, changing accountants is a lot like breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. It can be stressful, costly and fills your mind with anxiety! A lot of business owners find themselves plagued with questions like:
- What’s going to happen to the business?
- How much tax am I going to pay?
- Will the tax office come knocking?
- How am I going to lodge my BAS and tax returns?
- How will I have the time to look after all the compliance work?
1. Collect your information and files
Changing accountants require you to do in a smart and well-planned way.
The first step is to ensure that you are collecting as much information as you can:
- Tax returns lodged
- Access to your accounting software
- Financial Statements
- Important documents in relation to your business, companies and trust
- Copies of receipts, invoices and letters
These can be attained through emails and hard copies you have filed away. If you feel there are key documents missing, try and contact your previous accountant to request any missing documentation.
2. Review Your Current Agreement Terms and Conditions
Track and review where you are at with regards to your payments towards your current accountant. Have you paid ahead for work that has not been completed? Or do you owe for work that has already been done?
Take the time to go through your signed service agreement so that you are fully aware of what the repercussions are if you decide that you wish to terminate the contract. Is there a notice period that needs to be served? What method of communication is required to notify your current accountant of your decision to cease utilising their services?
It’s important to note that you should not tell your current accountant that you are thinking of changing accountants yet.
3. Find and Speak to a New Accountant First
Shop around and speak to multiple accountants to see what may be best suited to you. Ensure that you are addressing any shortcomings that you want to avoid. Be sure to discuss the following:
- Specialisation – Do they offer the services you require? Do they have experience and similar clients in your field?
- Communication and point of contact – Who will you be working with and how will they contact you?
- Fees – What are the costs?
- Qualification and Registration – Ensure their tax agent license and membership with accounting and tax associations are valid.
It is important to find an accountant that you can trust and believe you can work within the long run.
4. Attempt to Remedy the Situation with your Current Accountant
If you believe that the issues can potentially be addressed with your current accountant, this is the best time to do it. If after discussing this with them that you feel that there is no improvement to the situation, then its best to start.
5. Sign Engagement Letter and send Ethical Clearance Letter
By now you should have signed the engagement letter with your new accountant. Have your new accountant send through an ethical clearance letter to request for information from your previous accountant. You can also send through the information you have collected previously to speed up the process of the transition.
If you encounter complications with requesting your information, it would be best to speak to your new accountant to mediate the issue. Should this persist, your last step may involve filing a complaint with the Tax Practitioner Board or an appropriate association that your previous accountant is affiliated with such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants or CPA.
What’s important is that you are minimising any risks associated with an accountant who may react spitefully. You are protecting you and your business by planning ahead and keeping all necessary important documentation in the event that you need to change accountants. Whilst it’s very unlikely to occur, it’s important to ensure that there are no regrettable outcomes that result from complacency. If you are still uncertain, Box Advisory Services can assist with guiding you through this process if you are looking to change accountants.
Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to contractors. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or tax advice. You should, where necessary, seek your own advice for any legal or tax issues raised in your business affairs.