Back in the day, when ledgers were handwritten, you would likely see your accountant once a year, with conversation limited to how much tax you had to pay. So, it’s understandable that most people’s perception of accountants is of us not being overly approachable or proactive.

Let me assure you, if it’s close to a year since you last spoke to your accountant, it’s time that you both stepped into the 21st Century.

Times have changed, and so has the role of your accountant. If you’re reading this post, it’s safe to say that you don’t feel like you’re getting the best value out of your current accountant. Here are five qualities that we consider non-negotiable when it comes to finding the right accountant to ensure your business success.

1. Your accountant advises on business matters

If your accountant still speaks in terms of your BAS, Tax Returns and due dates, run a mile. Your accountant should be talking to you about how to do better business. It’s as simple as that. If they’re not advising you, you’re just wasting money. A good accountant will be putting in place measures to easily access your financial information, so you’re not carting a shoebox full of receipts around and will be scheduling regular meetings to ensure you’re tracking against your business goals. A good accountant will not only advise in terms of your business’ numbers, but should also be experienced enough to provide (or at least have a network of referral partners) great general advice on integral business topics such as human resource management, marketing, branding, digital strategy, sales, etc.

2. Your accountant cares about your business

If you feel like you’re being treated like a number, then chances are that’s exactly what you are. Many businesses actively seek out an accountant they wish to work with, only to discover that once they’ve signed the engagement letter, they’re palmed off to the latest graduate. A good accountant will care about your business, and will be proactive in helping you make your business the best it can be.

3. Your accountant recommends and can implement cloud accounting strategies for your business

If you are keeping receipts in a dusty old shoebox and backing up your MYOB file and posting it off to your accountant for your annual tax return, well very simply, you need a new accountant. This is an antiquated practice, and it’s not effective for your business. Cloud accounting has been around for some time now, and it’s where your business needs to be.

Why, you ask?

Well, other than being a huge cost saving for you, you’ll know exactly what’s going on with your money at any given minute of the day, your bookkeeping will become so much simpler and quicker and your accountant can login at any time to give you real time advice. It also includes the ATO required Single Touch Payroll (STP). So look for an accountant that will be able to set up a cloud accounting strategy for you. A good place to start your search is right on the Xero website.

4. Your accountant provides fixed price agreements

Gone are the days when you anxiously await your accountant’s bill, quietly praying that by some miracle it won’t be as exorbitant as you’re anticipating. Most accountants now offer a competitive fixed price agreement to take care of all the number crunching stuff. The real value is in your accountant’s ability to integrate cloud accounting technology to seamlessly manage your business, and their advisory service. A good accountant will have no hesitation in broaching the subject of fees straight up. If it doesn’t come up, ask. If your prospective accountant isn’t forthcoming on price, or the fees seem a little on the steep side, find another accountant. You need to feel confident that your accountant is on your side and transparency is a pretty good indicator of whether they are or not.

5. Your accountant is a good listener

If your accountant is a good advisor, then they’ll be a good listener. People go into business for a variety of reasons, with different goals, objectives and lifestyle needs. A good accountant will be proactive in seeking to understand your motives, continually checking in and keeping you on track. A good accountant will also be a good sounding board for ideas and be able to provide insight when you’re dealing with challenges. You need to feel listened to and understood. If you’re not feeling it, then you’re probably not getting the advice you deserve.

Remember, while you’re on your quest to find a good accountant, you’re not looking for a bean counter or a number cruncher. What you want in an accountant is someone who knows your business inside and out, and who will help you navigate the best path forward in your business journey. Let these five pointers be a good starting point in guiding you to find the right accountant for your business.

Drop us a line to book in for a chat. We would love to hear about you and your businesses needs. (02)63 62 8255 or hello@thriveadvice.com.au.