You wouldn’t let anybody look after your legal matters, would you? And would you take financial advice from someone you met in the pub? Hopefully not. Ok, what if you were ill, would you seek help from any Tom, Dick or Harriet? Of course not, you’d make an appointment with your doctor.
So, when you entrust someone to look after your business’s finances you need to make sure they are fully qualified and regulated. The point I’m getting at here is that solicitors, financial advisors, and doctors have to, by law, be qualified. Accountants on the other hand do not.
Anybody can call themselves an accountant, including me. I mean, I am really good with figures, especially mental arithmetic but I have no relevant experience, technical expertise or qualifications, so trust me – no pun intended – you would not want to let me look after your books or file your tax returns.
Therefore, with the financial health of your business being of paramount importance to its survival, it is imperative that you thoroughly check any accountant you engage the services of to ensure they have the relevant qualifications and experience.
Just think of the disastrous consequences of using an unqualified ‘accountant’ when it goes wrong. You won’t have anywhere to turn to if you are not satisfied with their conduct, advice or service. Most unqualified accountants will not have professional indemnity insurance so in the worst-case scenario your business could close.
There are even unscrupulous companies that offer immediate online accreditation for charlatans masquerading as accountants so don’t be hoodwinked by a certificate and a few letters after their name. I hasten to add that these are the small minority, but it only takes one to cause a lot of damage to a business. To make sure you are not one of the victims read on…
There are several professional bodies that accountants in the UK can be members of, including: The ICAEW – the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; ACCA – the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants and CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
To become a qualified accountant can take several years of study and professional examinations before being allowed to advise clients. Even after qualification, many chartered accountants will continue to study and sit courses to ensure that the advice they provide is accurate, relevant and up to date. They are also independently checked to ensure the highest standards of service to clients is maintained. And just as importantly to ensure they have sufficient professional indemnity insurance cover to compensate clients if anything goes wrong.
One final point worth noting is that once you have verified that your accountant is fully qualified, make sure he or she has experience of working with businesses of your size and in the same sector. By doing this you are assured of having an accountant that best suits the needs of your business.
Just remember that unless you want someone like me looking after your books, be sure to engage the services of a qualified chartered accountant.
If you would like to speak with one of our chartered accountants, please click on the following link: