More than once, I’ve heard the misconception that it is hard to change accountants. While I understand why people think it is hard, there is no need for this to be the case.
If you are unhappy with your current advisers or are looking for someone closer to where you live or work and are even just looking for a change, the first thing to do is to find someone you would like to work with moving forward.
This is the hardest part of making a change. What are you looking for in your accountants?
Some factors to consider
- The person/people you would be working with. It is vital that you are happy with the person or people you will be working with and that you trust the advice they provide. Are they people to whom you can relate with and them you? Do they get where you are coming from and what you are looking for?
- The size of the firm. Some like smaller firms as they get to be able to talk to the senior team members each time and for more personalised service. Others like larger firms with a view to them having larger resources. Some accounting firms have requirements they expect clients to meet before they will consider assisting you.
- Their location. As I am regularly telling people, distance isn’t the obstacle it once was thanks to technology. Just yesterday I was talking to a client in Singapore over the internet. However, many people like to deal with a firm that is located close to where they work or live for convenience and ease of being able to arrange face-to-face meetings
- What technology do they use? Is a prospective accountant knowledgeable in how your run your business and keep your records? If you use a software package such as MYOB, Reckon or Xero, do they use it as well or would they be expecting you to make a change to a system they prefer to work with?
- Range of Service. Some will tailor their services to suit what you are wanting only providing those services you wish to receive. Others prefer to take the approach of offering a range of packages with different inclusions with an all or nothing approach.
- All new clients identify pricing as being a key factor. However, while price is clearly important, we usually find other factors such as those above are at the heart of things when we probe a bit deeper. Do the firms you are considering offer fixed or agreed pricing or do they work on hourly rates? Depending on your circumstances either can be appropriate.
Once you have decide with whom you would like to work moving forward and from when you would like to make the change, the process is easy. Your new accountants will need to write a letter to your current accountants as notification of your decision to change and asks for information to be provided to assist in making the change nice and smooth.
One of the great things about public accountants is that there is generally a great respect for each other and desire to assist each other. It is also ethically best practice under the guidelines of CPA Australian and Chartered Accountants Australian and New Zealand. After all, you have already made the decision to change so doing anything that will only burn bridges is counterproductive.
I normally suggest it is a good idea for you to contact the outgoing accountants as well as a courtesy and perhaps provide an explanation for your decision to make a change. However, over the years I have met people who have for varying reasons decided not to do this and it should never be a problem.
The final point I’d like to make is in relation to the timing of a change. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to minimise any potential double handling. What you don’t want is for your new accountants to be forced to redo work already done by your previous accountants. Your new accountants should provide advice to assist in avoiding this as much as possible.
The hardest part of making a change is working out who you would like to work with. If your preferred accountant really has your interests at heart, they will do all they can to make the transition as simple and easy as possible.
If you would like to find out more about how we can assist you to achieve your dreams and goals, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.