5 signs you’ve outgrown your small business accountant

By
John Liston
,
Director | Adviser
April 23, 2018

Is it time to look for an accountant to support business growth?

At Newton Liston Advisory, we see a lot of clients who have started to outgrow their current accountant and are looking for better quality advice. If you’re not sure whether it's time to move on from your small business accountant, the following signs are a good indication.

1. You want more proactive advice

Is seeing your accountant once a year so they can do your taxes no longer sufficient? If you find yourself wanting to know more about what you can do to grow your business, it's imperative that you choose an accountant who can give you more proactive advice. Some of this advice might relate to how your accountant can setup your business structure to minimise tax and protect your assets. You might also be looking to meet your accountant more than once a year for coaching and advice sessions.

At Liston Newton Advisory, we offer an annual tax planning meeting before the 30th of June each year to assess your tax strategy. In addition, our quarterly business coaching sessions provide further proactive advice on planning and operating your business in more efficient ways.

2. You need help converting to the cloud

Choosing an accountant who is familiar with cloud technology is crucial. There are so many new ways of doing things that can help to improve the efficiency of your business.

For example, at Liston Newton Advisory, we advise our clients to use Xero cloud software, which has a lot to offer business owners who want to automate their accounting tasks. Xero allows for the automation of:

  • Bank account reconciliation
  • The preparation of tax statements
  • The creation of financial statements
  • Payroll functions
  • Payment of employee superannuation

You can also document your receipts by photographing them with your phone camera and uploading them to Xero digitally. Xero can create over 40 different financial reports and uses a digital dashboard to store your critical figures, making them easy to view, so you can keep bigger business visions in mind. By digitalising your paperwork using cloud storage, you also get rid of clutter and can keep your documents properly organised.

3. They cannot offer specialist advice

When choosing an accountant, try to find someone who provides evidence that they work for other companies in your industry. Your small business accountant needs to be familiar with the sector you work in so that they can be up to date on the industry tax breaks that apply. If you are taking on a franchise, you will face specific challenges that aren't necessarily an issue in other businesses.

For example, while the franchise will offer support with marketing, sales, and product supply, you will have increased overheads and franchising fees to manage. Franchises are usually in customer service related industries which means you will also have to staff your franchise so that it can operate. In turn, this means that you will need to be on top of staff training, HR, and payroll issues.

Liston Newton Advisory has specialist experience in valuing and advising franchise businesses. If you are operating a franchise, you should consider choosing an accountant with this expertise.

4. You don’t trust them

Finding an accountant who is trustworthy and reliable is important. A good small business accountant offers great customer service and is easily contactable should you have a query. They should be willing to work with you so that you understand the financial reports they create and what they mean for your business.

It is vital that you trust your accountant in order to be able to delegate tasks to them easily. Delegation is an essential skill for a business owner, as it allows you to get on with other things knowing your financial house is in order.

Trusting your small business accountant is also crucial when it comes to dealing with the government and tax office. Your accountant will be lodging forms and ensuring that you are compliant with all rules and regulations, which is why they need to pay attention to detail.

5. They aren't helping you plan your future

It makes sense to get all your financial advice from one source: someone who has an in-depth understanding of where your wealth is being generated. You should choose an accountant who:

  • Is your business advisor. Choosing an accountant is about more than just choosing someone to do your taxes every year. Your small business accountant should also act as your trusted business adviser and should form an integral part of your financial plan for the future. Looking ahead enables you to plan business growth sustainably.
  • Can help you plan for succession. You might need advice on how to manage your cash flow with different lending options, for example, or perhaps you require assistance in creating a succession or exit plan for your business. There are so many important ways in which an accountant can support your business growth journey, no matter what stage you are at.
  • Offers business coaching. Hiring an accountant who offers ongoing quarterly business coaching sessions will ensure that you are getting the most advice for your money. If you own your own business, you might also want to consider finding a small business accountant who understands personal finance planning.

There you have it: five signs that you’ve outgrown your accountant. If any of these points ring warning bells in your head, it might be time to find better business advice.