How to choose a good accountant - Contractors Insurance Australia

June 5, 2015

Getting an accountant on board welcomes someone into your business that will become a trusted partner. Deciding that you need one is a big step in itself, and choosing the one you will trust with your finances can be very difficult. Here are our top Contractor Cover tips on how to choose the right accountant for your business. After all, you want your finances in the best possible hands to save you not only money, but time and trouble.


These days it is fairly easy to do a quick online search for accountants nearby. However, with technology becoming more advanced and many business using cloud-based systems, location isn’t so hard to get around. You can view the same information at the same time through ‘the cloud’ (a remote server housing all of your filing and computer software) without your locations mattering at all.

You will simply need to decide if you prefer your accountant be in your area, if you need to meet them, or if you are happy to outsource to someone capable a bit further away. This way you don’t limit your choices to those just in the area, but allow your options to open up to specialised accountants anywhere in the country or even the world. However if your business needs an accountant that will be required to attend meetings with you or will need to make specific trips for you then location might be a criteria to consider.

Type of qualification and experience

Accountants in Australia must have a Bachelor degree or 12 unit accredited Masters degree in accounting/business/commerce or economics from a recognised Australian University or the equivalent from an international body. Many also become Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Accountants in accordance with industry standards where they must have a certain level of study completed along with workplace experience and professional competency programs to become members.

The same as there are different types of lawyers and doctors, there are also different types of accountants in Australia. Your specific industry will likely have a specialised or experienced accountant in the field you require. It is best to hire a professional accountant the beginning of your business rather than later as they will be able to guide you through what you need to know and have specific knowledge about setting up the back-end of your business.

You can use accountants which are not certified, registered, or chartered, as certain areas of accounting such as bookkeeping, tax prep, or financial management don’t require this level. However, you will very much come to a point in the future as your business grows when you will need a chartered/certified/registered accountant, especially if you are audited.

Relevant expertise is also important in areas you will require the accountant for. Make sure you accountant has handled businesses of your size or potential size before with similar revenue and financial needs. Chances are if their clients have grown
they will be able to handle your company growth too. Accountants with experience within the same industry are also great, as then they will be familiar with unique needs of your business. You may also require someone who knows about the software you intend to use such as MYOB, Xero, or other cloud-based computing.

Take recommendations

Take recommendations from others. The accountant you need might be very close by indeed! You can tap into your following networks to gain advice on who you could contact:
• Friends and family
• Similar business owners
• Colleagues
• Online connections and social networks

Find out who they use or won’t use, and why they would or wouldn’t use them. You’ll be amazed at the advice and recommendations you can receive from those close to you.

So you have some candidates?

Make sure to interview more than one candidate to get an idea of what is available to you. It’s also a great way to see what the person is like and if you will get along well enough to work with them in future. The benefit of interviewing a few accountants is that it will give you a stronger idea of what you need. You will be able to chat to them and possibly gain some free advice, and determine your own business needs more clearly. Also get written quotes from each one on fee structure and the tasks they will be performing.

Ask your candidates for an example of their clients so you can contact them for references. This will weed out anyone that is bluffing about experience and allow you to hear about how well the accountant works. Don’t keep the clients on the phone for too long, a few quick questions should be enough to do the trick.

Once you decide on the accountant you want, negotiate the fees. It could be either by the hour, monthly retainer, percentage or the turnover or a combination of the three. Getting the best deal possible is up to you and you will also need to consider if the fee structure will suit you as your business grows.

The chosen one

After all of your hard work, and a bit of intuition you will find someone that suits you and your business. Congratulations! This is not a quick and easy decision to have made and you need someone you can trust with the right qualification and experience to help you grow. Great management of financial business issues can save you a great deal of money indeed!

Once you have chosen your perfect accounting partner, don’t forget to grab some auditing insurance to protect you from the fees a tax audit can bring. Contact Contractor Cover today for more information.

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General advice on this website has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the advice, please consider its appropriateness. You should also consider our disclosure documents, which include our Financial Services Guide (FSG) and Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) for some products.
*Retail clients are individuals or those purchasing an insurance product for use in connection with a small business where the product is a designated retail product (eg motor vehicle, home buildings, home contents, personal and domestic property, sickness and accidental and travel insurance). All other clients are wholesale clients.

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