Choosing an accountant is a big decision for individuals and businesses alike. However, it’s not uncommon for people to change accountants at some point in their financial journey. Here are seven of the most common reasons why people switch to a new accountant.
1. Outgrowing the Old Ways
As businesses and individuals grow, their financial needs evolve as well. You start small, maybe just needing basic financial help, but as time goes on, your financial life gets more complex and, naturally, so does the advice and services you require. If your current accountant doesn’t have the capacity to handle these changes, you many need to start working with a firm who understands all your new potential challenges.
2. They Don’t Answer Back
Communication is key. If you find that your accountant takes days to reply to an email or always seems to be away from their desk when you call, it might be time for a change. We all want updates, answers, and a bit of that personal touch. It can be so frustrating if you are waiting weeks to receive a response. Your accountant should be there when you have a question and be proactive enough to start the conversations without your initial prompt.
3. Living in the Past
It’s the 21st century and the accounting world has been absolutely transformed by technology. Cloud-based accounting software, automation tools, and data analytics have become so integral to efficient financial management. Other accountants who fail to adopt these tools may find themselves falling behind. You need an accountant who leverages technology to streamline processes, enhance accuracy, and provide real-time insights into your financial health, not someone who’s still trying to figure out how to attach a document to an email.
4. Rules Keep Changing
The financial world is forever evolving and changing. Tax laws, regulations, and compliance requirements dance around like they’re at a never-ending party. Accountants need to be aware of these changes and be there to provide you with unprompted guidance on how best to navigate and utilise these within your personal financial situation.
5. Performance Woes
Accountants are there to provide accurate financial reporting, reliable tax advice and timely submissions. If your accountant consistently makes errors, misses deadlines, or provides a general subpar service, you may rightfully, lose confidence in their abilities. You should be receiving your accounts and general financial information in a timely manner, so you aren’t scrambling to find tax payments a day before the deadline. Likewise, your accountant should be proactive and not reactive, explaining ways that can help you reduce your tax and whether any new regulations would be beneficial for your business to take advantage of.
6. Charged for everything
You should feel comfortable giving your accountant a call or sending a quick email to ask or chase something without getting the sense that every second of your communication is on a meter. The cost you are paying should always reflect the service. If you feel like you are scared to communicate because you will be charged per second, they probably don’t have your best interests at heart.
7. Personality Mismatch
You’re not just sharing numbers with your accountant; you’re sharing trust and a bit of your financial soul. If you don’t vibe with your accountant on a personal level – it’s just not going to work out. You need an accountant who can explain things to you without confusing you further with unnecessary accounting jargon. Find a firm who truly understands you and your business, and who can support you fully in all your financial endeavours.
When should you make the change?
Now you have decided you are going to make the switch, whether it’s because your needs outgrew their skills, they’re not keeping up with the digital age, or they’re just not delivering the goods, you will need to find a practice that is the right fit for you and then deceive when a good time is to jump.
You can change your accountant at any time. However, it’s sensible to do so at a time such as the end of the financial year, at month end or at the beginning of a VAT quarter. This gives a clear end and start date to both your old and new accountant which assists the process.
The moving process
Once you have engaged a new accountant, the process of switching is usually rather simple. First, try your best to end things on good terms with your accountant as you will still need their cooperation. We would recommend sending an email thanking them for their work and informing them that you have decided to move to another accountant.
You should then receive a disengagement letter from your current accountant, which will detail the work they have completed for you so far. Your new accountant will request ‘professional clearance’ from your previous accountant to confirm that there is no reason to why they shouldn’t act for you and to request copies of your financial information. Your previous accountant may charge a fee for doing this.
Finally, you’ll need to provide your new accountant with agent access by signing a ’64-8 Authoring your Agent’ form. This enables your new accountant to liaise directly with HMRC on your behalf.