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May 20, 2016

How to hire an accountant for your business

Hire a good management accountant to boost your business

Management accountants provide invaluable strategic input

As a business owner, do you ever feel like a hamster on a wheel running round and round and getting nowhere fast? No one ever said being your own boss was easy. Wearing many different hats every day from product and pricing decisions, logistics, marketing, customer service and HR and more, it’s easy to see how the books can sometimes get overlooked and slip down the list of priorities. That’s why it might be a good idea to hire an accountant.

As your business grows, doing the accounts takes up more time. And the complexity of managing your money also goes up a notch. If you feel as though you don’t have enough of a grip on your business’s finances, hiring or outsourcing a management accountant could be the answer.

A good management accountant’s skills go far beyond simply crunching the numbers. If they are worth their salt, they can become your business’s financial partner providing valuable strategic advice and help. Other things they can help you with include:

• Analysing the numbers to spot trends and assist with decision-making
• Providing strong business acumen to identify under-performing areas as well as more lucrative parts of the business
• Negotiating better prices from suppliers
• Keeping up to date with legislative changes e.g. the new People of Significant Control (PSC) regulations aimed at increasing business accountability
• Maintaining compliance for you and your business with statutory bodies providing assurance that all regulatory requirements are satisfied
• Organising and recording share/stock allocation as the business evolves

So how do you go about hiring or outsourcing a management accountant that will make a big difference to you and your business?

Here are our 10 top tips to make sure you hire the right accountant for you:
  1. Test the water – you may not need a full-time resource at first. Consider taking on a part-time or outsourced management accountant as an interim solution.
  2. Have a good brief – getting the job description spot on is absolutely essential. Are you looking for someone who just does the numbers or are you also seeking their input from a strategic perspective? Either way, an accountancy qualification is a must.
  3. Tap up your contacts – the best way to find a good accountant is to ask around and get a referral from your solicitor, tax adviser or a business contact or colleague.
  4. Cast your net wide – the best accountant for you may not necessarily be working in the same industry sector as you. In fact, a finance specialist from ‘outside’ may bring a new, fresh perspective to your business.
  5. Do your background checks – double-check your accountant’s references. Are they ‘kosher’? Make sure they are registered with a professional accountancy body.
  6. Don’t forget the X factor – if you’re looking for someone to really add value, you need to hire an accountant who’s commercially astute. They understand the numbers and more importantly, know how to apply them proactively.
  7. Forget cost it’s about chemistry – don’t be blinkered by costs. Choose the accountant you feel you click with the most. If you don’t really get on with your accountant, it’s not going to really work for you or your business. It’s also important to consider how they like to work. Have they embraced technology and happy to use cloud-based accounting software such as Xero or are they more ‘old school’? Are they willing to try new processes and procedures?
  8. Honesty is the best policy – are there any financial blips in your past your accountant should know about? It’s vital you establish trust from the outset and this means owning up to any skeletons in your balance sheet before they find them.
  9. Share your vision – a good accountant will work hard with you to develop and grow your business. Talk to them right at the start about your aspirations for your business and your own life. This will allow you to work together to make those business dreams a reality.
  10. Seal the deal – think about what you can realistically offer in terms of pay and benefits. Are you prepared to provide equity in your business or a performance-related bonus scheme?
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