Guide

Choose and work with an accountant

Managing the relationship with your accountant

To get the best out of your accountant you should arrange to have regular contact with them.

You should make sure that you always:

  • Keep agreed records or deadlines.
  • Inform your accountant of any changes to your business.
  • Discuss major issues with your accountant - such as tax implications of amounts you take out as drawings, salary or dividend.
  • Pay your accountant on time. If you don't, your accountant has the right to withhold your figures and other business data until payment has been made, except for limited company accounts that must be filed with Companies House.

However, just like with any business relationship, there could be problems with your accountant. For example:

  • they may be difficult to contact
  • they could be failing to provide you with necessary information
  • you could be receiving unexpected fee invoices
  • you might need an accountant with different specialist skills and experience
  • the service offered may not be as proactive as your business requires

Your accountant should be able to adapt as the needs of your business change. However, every three to five years, it is a good idea to review the relationship with your accountant. Questions to consider:

  • Am I still getting value for money?
  • Is my accountant informative and easy to contact?
  • Does my accountant still suit the needs of my business?

Changing your accountant

If you choose to change your accountant, you should manage the process carefully. You should bear in mind that you must terminate the agreement with your existing accountant before you sign any agreement with a new one.

Before you do anything else check the terms and conditions that you have agreed with your accountant. You may find there is a notice period you must honour.

You should then check that you have access to all the data relating to your business. You should make sure that these are transferred to your new accountant prior to the handover.

If you need to complain about your accountant

If for any reason you suspect your accountant of misconduct then you could raise this with them directly. If you are still not satisfied you can make a complaint to the professional body they are accredited with. However, the professional bodies will not help you get compensation for any funds lost as a result of the misconduct - to do this you will need to seek legal advice.

The Law Society of Northern Ireland provides a breakdown of solicitors by area that can be used if you need to seek legal advice.