I met with a potential client last week who had been using a larger local accountancy practice. During the meeting I was asked what made me a good accountant. Whilst it put me on the spot, it did start me thinking what does make a good accountant?......
Strong technical and commercial knowledge
Every chartered accountant will have strong technical knowledge, not only have we had to study hard to qualify, once qualified part of our membership is to keep up to date through continuing professional development.
It’s actually taking this knowledge, applying it to a business, and being able to help the client understand how tax impacts on business decisions that makes a good accountant.
Managing the client relationship
Every client is different, be it by industry, experience running a business, qualification and expectation. A good accountant will appreciate this, be able to gain an understanding of what the client wants and manage the relationship accordingly, rather than adopting a blanket approach to all clients.
Being pro-active rather than reactive
By the nature of what we do, an accountant often meets a client after the financial year has finished, so a lot of meeting time is spent looking at historical figures. A good accountant will get to know the business and understand what makes it tick. They will discuss the client’s future plans, communicate any legislative changes that may affect them, and have the ability to think outside the box.
One of my clients came across to me as they got anxious every time that they had to visit their previous accountant. This can happen for a number of reasons, the accountants approach, the clients’ lack of understanding of where their business is, or lack of interest in the accounts and tax side of the business. A good accountant is approachable, they will be at the end of the phone when needed, will encourage clients to ask questions and challenge the information being presented to them.
An accountant is more than often the only external party that has a grasp of a business’ financial position and future strategy. Therefore, it goes without saying that you must be able to trust your accountant and have faith that you are getting the best advice for your business.
All qualified accountants have professional ethics that they have to adhere to but a business owner needs to be able to work with their accountant over a period of time, so you have to trust that person to get the most out of the client / accountant relationship.