Finances are a big deal to any contractor, and most contractors consider a number of factors before deciding on an accountant. Just choosing an accountant can seem like a hefty task, so we’ve put together these eight top tips for choosing an accountant to make the whole process easier for you:
Tip #1: Use a specialist contractor accountant
You really want your accountant to understand your needs, and one certain way to ensure this is by using a specialist contractor accountant. They will know the nuances associated with working in the contractor accountancy industry, whereas a high street accountant may be unaware of these. A specialist contractor accountant will also have the intricate knowledge of the industry-specific tax legislation that many contractors do not find easy to understand. ICS are experts in legislation affecting contractors, including IR35 – download our IR35 guide here.
Tip #2: Ensure your accountant is regulated
You need to trust your accountant, and one confirmation of trust is that they are regulated. Regulation will not just verify that they are compliant and credible, but it also confirms your accountant’s expertise and professionalism. This will give you peace of mind; since using an unregulated accountant will mean that if they make a mistake with your accounting then you will be always be held responsible by HMRC.
At the very least, your accountant should be regulated by CIMA. ICS are regulated by the CIMA, as well as an approved employer of the ACCA. We are also an Associate Member of FSCA, and an IPSE Accredited Accountant. We’ve also been audited by Lawspeed as a service provider.
Tip #3: Choose a contractor accountant that offers more than just an accountancy service
A good contractor accountant will not just offer the standard accountancy service; they will also offer additional contractor specific services such as pensions.
ICS are partnered with Independent Financial Adviser’s, Burton and Fisher, to offer you ICS Money, which consists of pensions, savings & investments, mortgages, and personal insurances.
Tip #4: Always ensure you know what is included in the fee
The last thing you want to suffer after signing up with a contractor accountant is paying more money than you thought you would, so always make sure that you know what is included in the fee you pay. Find out if there will be any additional costs, whether they be monthly or annually (e.g. completing your annual tax return, an IR35 review, insurance).
We offer three levels of service so you can choose what is best for you. You can view them by clicking here.
Tip #5: Use an accountant that is known to provide a great service
Another thing you don’t want after signing up with an accountant is to realise that they don’t provide a good service. You can reduce the chance of this happening by asking other contractors who have used them about their service. Many accountants will have testimonials pages on their website so you can gauge what sort of service they provide from these.
Asking a simple question and getting passed from pillar to post can be one of the most annoying things ever, so make sure your contractor accountant provides you with a devoted Client Account Manager that will not only deal with your financial matters, but is also available to respond to any enquiries you may have.
Each client of ICS has a dedicated Client Account Manager that will take the time to get to know you, your requirements and be there to answer any your queries.
We’re also very proud of the feedback we receive from other contractors which you can view on our dedicated testimonials page on our website.
Tip #6: Choose an accountant that lets you do your accounting your way
There are so many ways to undertake accountancy these days – online, in-person, by paper, email, text – but some accountants will not offer the particular method of accountancy you would like to use. Choose an accountant that allows your accountancy to be done in the way that you would prefer, as this will make it easier for you.
In 2014, we launched our online portal which gave contractors the ability to raise invoices, submit expenses and see real time information on their limited company. It was so popular that this is the preferred choice for our clients. Our dedicated Client Account Managers regularly talk on the phone and by email and our accountants will meet up with clients at certain times throughout the year. We ensure we listen to our contractors, ensuring the service we offer meets their needs.
Tip #7: Choose an accountant that is the right size for you
Accountancy firms can really vary in size, and you need to choose an accountancy firm that suits your requirements. A large practice may have thousands of clients and have the accountancy expertise you need, but they may not provide a service that is right for contractors with an especially unique set of skills. A smaller practice may provide a more tailored service, however this may be more costly, and they may not be able to focus on your needs during busy accountancy times.
We really do fit somewhere in the middle with a team of accountants and Client Account Managers that each look after a specific number of clients each. We want to ensure we deliver a personal service at a competitive price.
Tip #8: If you choose to switch accountants, make sure that it is a simple and inexpensive process
If you make the decision to switch contractor accountants, the last thing you want is for the process to be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. Choose a contractor accountant whose switching process is simple and who do not overcharge you; yes your new accountant will need to ensure your books are up-to-date, but this should not be costly – some contractor accountants do not even charge for this.
With ICS it is simple and free to switch accountants – we’ll make sure that your books are up-to-date for the previous year, and you can find out more about our stress free switching process here.
We hope these tips help you with your search to find your ideal contractor accountant. ICS have been helping contractors with their accountancy, tax, and administration compliantly since 2002. Call us on 0800 195 3750 or talk to us on the chat box to find out more.