What qualities do you really need in an accountant? What are the most important qualities that make your accountant stand out from the pack? We ran a little survey and here's a list of what you consider to be the most valuable attributes in a beanie.
1. Financial Wiz
It's not enough to simply read numbers. Your accountant should be able to sit down on your first visit, flit through your balance sheet and give you an instant and accurate reading of the state of your business. If on first visit they can't do this, grab your hat and make for the door! You need direct and honest advice and a fantastic accountant can almost feel numbers and business health. They can do it well and they can do it instantly.
2. Big and Small Picture Thinker
This is critical. A good accountant understands the detail of your financial statements. This is what all accountants are trained to do. But a great accountant moves beyond book balancing and conceptualises and grasps the global or structural strengths and weaknesses of your financial situation. They develop and see excellent outcomes for your business and give you a roadmap of advice on how to get there.
3. Have They Grown Their Own Business?
What is the state of their own business? Is it in good shape? This doesn't mean they have created a corporation, but what it does mean is they have a great running business or firm that is healthy and thriving. Have they taken risks? Are they proactive and progressive? Are they in step with the times? Do they employ modern technologies? These are good indicators. Take note if this is happening and if it is, you may be in the right place. If not, find a beanie who is doing just that!
4. Good Communication
Does your accountant adhere to account-speak or do they follow best practise plain English as part of their communications policy with clients? Are communications strained and laboured or simplified so there's clarity and mutual understanding? You've let us know this is one of the single most important qualities to you. Clients tell us they want good, plain, smart help. They don't want to hear about academic theories on the development of taxation legislation in NZ over the past thirty years!
5. What Kind of Team Does Your Accountant Have?
A great accountant isn't afraid to fire team players who aren't performing for you, the client. A fantastic accountant will keep searching for key team players who contribute to an excellent job. They go above and beyond to source team members who deliver not just a set of financials, but quality financials that maximise your return honestly and ethically without cutting corners. There is no sloppy at Slaters. It's all about a great team. From Tina (our simply brilliant front of house reception person) through to Harsha, (the leader of our Financials Team) and Beth and Shareena. Great staff - longstanding members over many years - great people who work well together for the team and client.
6. Understands a Good Business Model.
It's not just about a set of financials. A fantastic accountant helps you to develop a very good, comprehensive business model over many years. We're proud to say we have clients who've been with us 25 years and some of these have been challenged to grow and flourish their businesses even when it's been painful! The ones who've stuck with our big picture plans reap the rewards. If your accountant doesn't help you develop a healthy, longterm business model, have a think about moving on.
7. Are They Easy to Work With?
Up front payments and clear costs? And we don't mean "bundling packages." We decided against these some years ago in favour of greater transparency. A clear, fixed price that you can pay off or pay in one fell swoop. (Bundling is a monthly payment that can eek away in the background without you ever fully accessing the full deal. It's a confusion for clients because they are locked in to their package and can't ever really access anything beyond their bundle without paying extra bucks. We don't do that.Not transparent enough for Slaters and we've seen it eventuate into relationship breakdown between partner and client.) Easy to make an appointment? How about hidden costs? Are there annoying and sneaky hourly rates hidden somewhere in the fine print? A fantastic accountant is fully transparent about costs and is also very accessible. They're easy to talk to and come back to you quickly via free meetings, phone calls or email. At Slaters you can even pop in and catch Brett and Brad on the hop, for no extra cost. That's ease!
This is a biggie. Clients have repeatedly reported that they're actually more comfortable with an accountant who is NOT out and about at every social function and gathering. You've told us a fantastic accountant isn't boozing it up at the bar and letting loose with your private financial matters. There's a code of ethics to adhere to, and this needs to be taken very, very seriously. A fantastic accountant understands they're dealing with the financial heart and soul of their clients and their families and honours that information accordingly.
These are just a few of the key elements you need to look for when sourcing a really good accountant. We hope it helps you on your financial journey. And remember, if you are looking to change beanies or find one that can really help you, don't hesitate to email us in at the office on firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also book a free appointment online here . Make an appointment and talk with Brett about improving your financial future. It's free and chances are, once you speak with Brett you'll come on board with Slaters.
Millie Slater is Marketing, Social Media and HR Manager at Slater Chartered Accountants. Copyright Slaters 2016.