Finding an accountant via recommendations
It’s a great idea to find an accountant via recommendations. But then, the same can be said for other industries and professions too such as local trades people or web designers.
There’s one main significant thing to consider though when asking for recommendations.
And how is this known? This is not meant to be a flippant comment but just because an accountant is good for one person or business does not necessarily mean they are just as good for another.
A recent example springs to mind. An accountant that works with a local delivery driver was recommended to a local builder as he was “a nice chap and his fees were reasonable”. However the accountant had absolutely no experience of working with the CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) and as a result was not at all competent in the advice and tasks carried out. What the recommendation wrong? No. The accountant was a nice chap with reasonable fees. How was the local delivery driver to know about the Construction Industry Scheme.
People make the mistake of assuming that all accountants want all types of clients and frankly this is not true. Some accountants will be extremely picky about the sort of clients they want. It’s unlikely that you will see many accountants websites saying “we don’t want to work with small businesses” or “retail and charities should not contact us” as that really would be giving out a negative impression. But, this criteria of knowing who they want to work with and who they don’t want to work with as accountants is very important to the success of that accountant’s business. Recommendations don’t take this into account as the person making the recommendation doesn’t usually know what types of business or client the accountancy firm or accountant wants to work with!
The best kind of recommendations therefore are where someone is in the same industry. This is not foolproof though unfortunately as there are things such as stage of growth of the business, size of the business, software requirements, number of transactions, financial requirements to consider. Rarely are two businesses ever exactly the same.
This is why I am surprised when I read threads on business forums such as this one titled “recommend an accountant” where people jump in with recommendations based on their own accountant “being nice” or vague terms such as “saving money” or even worse, can refer business. In this case the Opening Poster (OP) asked only for people in the same business as him to give advice. Understandably people don’t want to be sold to but this attitude really misses the opportunity to explore what other accountants would recommend about selecting the right accountant for his business.
Don’t make the same mistake as this poster on the forum. Use a middle man like us to make enquiries on your behalf so you can make an informed decision.