How to get the most out of your accountant
It’s a common misconception that your accountant just does the books, meets financial year-end deadlines and that’s about it.
However, these are only the basics. As a small business, your accountant can offer so much more than this. They are worth their weight in gold if you work with them efficiently. They can be a valuable business partner who offers expert advice, saves you money and helps you grow – if you know how to get the most out of your accountant, that is.
The key is understanding how to get the most out of your accountant to not let a valuable resource go to waste. Here are five ways to get started:
10 top tips on how to get the most out of your accountant
1. Find the right one!
You wouldn’t hire an employee without exploring their experience, culture fit or references. Finding your accountant is no different.
Arrange a call or a coffee so you can assess what value they can bring to your business. You want someone who not only understands your industry but has worked with small businesses, ideally in your sector, too.
Referrals are a great start. It could be from another business owner or one of your business partners such as your lawyer or marketing agency. A good idea is to look for one that will be able to work with you as your business grows.
Conversely, don’t be afraid to end your accountant relationship if it’s no longer working. Have your business needs changed? Do you want someone with more sector-specific knowledge? Or simply, is the rapport not there? This is a key relationship – building trust and a strong, open dialogue are important.
2. Leverage their networks
A good accountant will have a strong network, some of which may be of help to you and your business. It could be legal advice, banking or marketing support – or even new business leads. If they are working in your industry, they should introduce you to similar businesses that you may want to get to know.
Don’t be afraid to ask them who they know and how they can plug you into their network. Your accountant is a valuable resource that’s there to be used.
3. It’s good to talk
Don’t limit your contact with your accountant to the end of the financial year. Set up a quarterly meeting or call, or even better, a monthly check-in if you think you’d benefit from it.
This allows your accountant to get to know you and your business better, enabling them to spot trends and opportunities. They can then make strategic recommendations or point you to products, services or people that can help. It can be pretty lonely building a business. Having the ability to bounce thoughts and ideas off a trusted partner with business acumen and sector knowledge can be helpful. It’s not always about talking about the accounts.
4. Help them to help you
You want your accountant to spend the least amount of time necessary on the nuts and bolts of work. Leave them free to consider your business in the round, offering advice, recommendations and introductions. So, get organised! Figure out exactly what kind of information they will need from you and if you aren’t sure, ask. Not only does this make their work extremely efficient, but it will also cost you less in the long run.
Don’t make your accountant have to chase paperwork or ask for documents to be amended. You’re wasting valuable time – yours and theirs. Make sure you give them your full business picture as well. Sharing half-truths about your business will waste everyone’s time. Those issues you have kept from them will be unearthed eventually and will need fixing.
5. Dual access to your cloud accounting software
Using a quality cloud accounting software platform like Xero is a terrific business decision. Give your accountant the ability to view and analyse real-time data from your company whenever they need. This will massively increase the efficiency of the accountant/ business relationship.
Your accountant should have full access to your accounting software platform. This means they can provide better advice, make strategic recommendations and alert you to problems that arise, such as challenges with your cash flow.
Cloud accounting platforms also connect to several products and services that can support your business. An invoice financing partner like Hydr, which is a proud partner of Xero, makes paying your invoices within 24 hours seamless. When it comes to optimising your cash flow, you and your accountant will always be on the same page.
6. Personal and professional finances
You’ve hired your accountant to manage your business finances and guide you on your growth journey, but a good accountant should be in tune with your personal circumstances too. Every business is a person and a family, so whether it’s tax effectiveness or personal investment strategies, your accountant can help you coordinate. Consider sharing a more holistic picture with your accountant so they can be mindful of your personal circumstances when making business-specific recommendations.
7. If you don’t understand – ask your accountant
You went into business because it’s what you’re good at and it’s what you love doing. When it comes to finances, many business owners can feel a little out of their depth. Don’t be afraid to ask your accountant if you are unsure about something or don’t understand. A good accountant will be happy to explain and explore this with you – it’s exactly this kind of value that they should be bringing to your business. The process should feel collaborative and comfortable, too – if it feels like you’re burdening them, they may not be the right accountant for you.
8. Get what you pay for from your accountant
Your accountant must be able to provide clear detail on deliverables and value for the fee you’re paying. Transparency and openness has to be two-way and is critical to a thriving relationship with your accountant. You are allowing this person or firm into the inner workings of your business, so full disclosure and transparency on their behalf is your right. If you don’t feel you are getting this, it could be a red flag.
9. Ensure they’re tech-savvy
The way software can support your business has changed beyond recognition, be it for accounting, banking or project management. Make sure your accountant is up to speed on existing and new digital tools and is recommending them to you – the Xero Marketplace is a great place to explore these. Recommendations from your accountant will allow your business to connect to a multitude of cloud-based add-ons that can help your business. It could be an invoice finance partner like Hydr or a tool to help you time track and report back to your clients.
10. Maximise your profitability
Cash is king, but maximising profitability is critical and your accountant should be a key player in this.
They can help you work through your fixed costs, make sure you are working with the right suppliers at fair prices for your business, and, of course, give advice on all matters related to tax.
Once you know how to get the most out of your accountant, they can be a very valuable resource to your business, and actively contribute towards your business growth. To get the most out of your relationship with your client, follow the above 10 tips, and watch as your profitability starts increasing.
The role invoice finance can play in getting the most out of your accountant
Invoice finance is a useful tool for optimising your business’ cash flow, and when used in tandem with sophisticated cloud-based accounting software, like Xero, it can help take you and your accountant’s efforts further. When considering invoice finance for your business, make sure to partner with an invoice finance provider – like Hydr – that can integrate with your accounting software, so as to not add to your account’s administrative to-do list, but to further streamline their process.
Are you looking for an invoice financing partner? Find out if Hydr is right for you.