Finding the right accountant

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Today's post comes courtesy of Nicola Jones from My Accountant Online.



Do you realise in the UK anyone can call themselves an accountant?

An accountant doesn’t need to have passed any professional exams, undertaken any training, hold insurance, maintain and update their skills and knowledge, or actually have any knowledge or experience whatsoever.

As a qualified accountant I find that frightening!

Some individuals who don’t hold professional qualifications are competent at what they do, for example some tax advisors will be ex tax inspectors without formal qualifications, and some accountants who have attained professional accountancy qualifications choose not to maintain their memberships of their professional bodies. But unless they choose to take out insurance, and join a regulatory body, you have no safeguards or assurances if things go wrong.

If you are looking for an accountant here’s my suggestions on a few things to look for –

1. Check what qualifications they hold – there are many professional bodies for accountants in the UK but some of the most common for qualified accountants in practice will be the Chartered bodies with accountants having FCCA, FCA, ACCA or FCA, after their name and the AAT and ATT whose members will be MAAT or ATT.

2. Make sure they are experienced in looking after the accounts and tax affairs of people like you.

3. Get recommendations and ask for testimonials.

4. Make sure they have a proper complaints procedure and professional indemnity insurance – this should be set out in writing when you sign up with a qualified accountant.

5. Make sure how and what they charge is clear at the onset – some accountants do still charge based on the time spent on your affairs which can mean unexpected bills. Fixed fees mean you know what you are paying and when.

You may decide an unqualified accountant is right for you but make sure it’s a decision you make knowing that if things do go wrong you may have no come-back if they aren’t insured or have a professional body who will deal with complaints. The choice is yours, but you need to make an informed choice.

Nicola Jones
Director My Accountant Online Limited
Chartered Certified Accountants