Navigating the Transition: Critical Considerations When Switching Accountants

So, you have decided that something needs to change, but you are worried about the process of taking the plunge and switching accountant? We hear you. Businesses and individuals alike can find this to be a very daunting process, especially if you haven’t done it before. Below we have done our best to outline some of the common concerns and hopefully put your mind at ease to show that it’s not as scary as you may think.

Trust and Relationship: Over time many individuals and businesses build a strong, trusting relationship with their accountants. Changing accountants means starting new relationships and trusting a new professional with your financial information which can be overwhelming.

On the other hand, you may find the new accountant to be more trustworthy and knowledgeable than the last. Plus, they may have a broader network of contacts and business connections that can benefit your business, such as potential clients or suppliers.

Disruption: Transitioning from one accountant to another can be disruptive, especially if the previous accountant had a deep understanding of your financial situation.

Like everything you start new, there is always going to be a small adjustment period. However, the new accountant can provide a fresh outlook on your finances and processes which may highlight elements which were potentially overlooked previously.

Confidentiality: You may worry about the confidentiality of your financial information when transferring accountants; that your data will not be handled securely and could potentially be disclosed to unauthorised parties.

Most accountancy practices are members of a professional organisation in which confidentiality is one of the fundamental principles. Therefore, accountants are unable to disclose information to third parties without your initial consent, to do so would be a breach of professional practice.

Expertise: Concerns about the new accountant’s level of expertise and whether they can provide the same level of service as your previous accountant may be on your mind.

Before you make the move, complete your due diligence thoroughly and find a new accountant that holds specialised expertise in your industry or in your specific financial issues. This will enable them to provide tailored advice and solutions for you and your business.

Communication: Effective communication is crucial between clients and their accountants. You may have concerns about how and by which means you can communicate with the new accountant.

This should be clarified in the initial meetings you have with the new accountant. Ask them how often and by which means you will be liaising. For example, at JWR we ask you how you would like to be contacted within our onboarding process to ensure there are no issues in that department.

Loyalty: Some individuals and businesses feel a sense of loyalty to their current accountant, particularly if they have had a long-standing relationship. Changing accountants may feel disloyal or uncomfortable.

There is no point being in a long-standing relationship if you are not satisfied with the service just because it is all you have known. You always need to do what is best for you and your business. It is not always easy to have that conversation with someone you have had a long working relationship with, but the pros of the switch usually outweigh the cons.

Regulatory Compliance: There can be concerns about ensuring a smooth transition that complies with all regulatory requirements, such as notifying HMRC of the change in representation.

As part of the transition, you will be asked to fill out a 64-8 Agent Authorisation form which is then forwarded to HMRC to inform them of the change of agent. This is done as a matter of practice for most firms when they take on a new client.

Hopefully the above settles some of your concerns regarding the process of changing accountant. We do recommend that you conduct thorough research, seek recommendations, speak to potential accountants, and carefully review the terms of engagement to ensure a smooth and satisfactory transition. It’s essential to choose an accountant who can meet both your financial needs and your communicative needs all the while providing the level of service and trust you require.

Considerations for Changing Accountants

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JWR are a three director, progressive, modern and friendly firm of Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisors based in south east Hampshire. Trading since 1992, we have built a reputation for client care and ‘out of the box’ solutions.

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