Counting the Cost: How much should I be paying my accountant?
There are some things in life we’d all rather not have to pay for, particularly those expensive jobs that we may not see any immediate benefit from, such as servicing the boiler or replacing a broken roof tile. The same can also be said when it comes to paying for the services of an accountant.
While there is no legal requirement for you as a business owner to have an accountant, you are legally responsible for ensuring the accountancy requirements of your business are in order. If you do not do this satisfactorily, your pleas of ignorance will fall on deaf ears at HMRC, however you can be sure that the fines they will impose on you will be loud and clear.
As a business owner, you may be used to juggling many roles at once. However, unless you have the necessary experience and are absolutely certain you can do it, making the decision to be your own accountant could leave you counting the cost further down the line.
Before you commit to undertaking this role yourself, you should ask yourself two questions: 1) do you have the knowledge and understanding to do it yourself, and 2) do you have the time? If you answer ‘no’ to either of these questions, then it could be time for you to consider appointing the services of a professional accountant to deal with this on your behalf. So what is the best way to go about putting this in place?
As all businesses have varying needs and requirements, there is not a one size fits all approach to choosing an accountant. Accountants set their own prices and as a result fees can vary widely. As with many things in life, cheaper does not necessarily mean better and it is well worth investing time in finding the right accountant at the right price. It is prudent to obtain quotes from a range of firms, but in your pursuit of getting the best deal you shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of finding an accountant who will be the best match for your business. Some accountancy firms specialise in certain industries, and you may be able to realise better value by employing the services of someone who is experienced in your business area and therefore familiar with the likely challenges which may be encountered, even if this comes with a slighter higher price tag.
While an accountant need not cost you a fortune, how much you should be paying really comes down to the scale of work you require them to carry out. Presenting your accountant with a box of jumbled coffee-stained receipts at the end of the tax year means valuable time will be spent simply putting them order; this extra work will be duly reflected in the cost to you. Anything you can do to make your accountant’s job quicker and easier, such as keeping an organised record of your expenses, should see you financially rewarded when their invoice drops into your inbox.
While commissioning an accountant may seem like just another added expense, in the long-run this could actually turn out to be some of the best money you ever spend. Just like the comfort you feel as winter rolls around safe in the knowledge that your boiler is working and your roof is leak-free, employing the services of an accountant can similarly provide you with the reassurance of knowing your finances are being taken care of by a professional, leaving you to get on with what you do best.