5 tips for finding the perfect accountant for your small business

Time to hire an accountant?

Whether you've had a rough Self Assessment season, been spending far too long on bookkeeping or you simply want to run your business finances better, you might well decide the time is right to hire the services of an accountant – but where do you begin?

In the video below, Emily Coltman, FreeAgent's chief accountant, highlights the top five things you should look for in an accountant when you start the search.


Hi, I'm Emily Coltman, chief accountant to FreeAgent, and I'm here to give you five top tips for how to find your perfect accountant.

1. Understand what your accountant is telling you

Make sure that your accountant speaks plain English so that you can understand what they're telling you. Because this is still your business, you are legally responsible for it, to the taxman, to the rest of the authorities, so make sure that you understand what your accountant is telling you. If you don't understand your accountant, go somewhere else.

2. Make sure the accountant fits your businesses

Make sure that you choose an accountant who has experience in the size and sector of business that you're operating in. It's no good choosing an accountant whose speciality is pubs, if you are an IT contractor. Equally, don't choose an accountant who specialises in large businesses if your business is small, the needs will be very different.

3. Find an accountant who goes beyond crunching the numbers

Choose an accountant who will be proactive as well as reactive. Somebody who, for example, will tell you how to save tax in a legal and ethical way. Someone who will identify some good accounting software for your business and teach you to use it, not somebody who'll just crunch the numbers and spit them out.

4. Check that your accountant is qualified for the job

Think about using a qualified accountant, one who's qualified with, for example, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland or in England and Wales, or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. If you use a qualified accountant then you have recourse to their professional body if the accountant makes a bad mistake.

5. Choose an accountant who will act on your behalf

Choose an accountant who will act as your agent with HMRC, the taxman. That could save you, potentially, a lot of difficult conversations, because your accountant can talk to HMRC on your behalf.

Thanks for watching! If you are looking for an accountant, why not make the directory of FreeAgent accountants your first port of call?

Disclaimer: The content included in this guide is based on our understanding of tax law at the time of publication. It may be subject to change and may not be applicable to your circumstances, so should not be relied upon. You are responsible for complying with tax law and should seek independent advice if you require further information about the content included in this guide. If you don't have an accountant, take a look at our directory to find a FreeAgent Practice Partner based in your local area.