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Five things that separate a good accountant from a great one

By CCIWA Editor 

Opening your books – and your life – to your accountant is a big decision. Here’s some tips on what to look for:

1. They are happy to disagree with you

“As an owner, you want to be pushed and challenged,” says KMPG Perth partner Bruce Sinclair. “It’s about bringing on board someone that you think is prepared to do just that; to not only disagree with you, but to articulate that.” Of course, it shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship, but your accountant should be both comfortable enough to suggest you change the way you do business – and articulate enough to explain how it will benefit you.

2. They suggest changes you would never have thought of?

A great accountant is about more than just compliance. A great accountant will be able to spot trends in your business activity and suggest changes to allow you to take advantage of new opportunities or head off any emerging problems. Their job is to spot significant movements in your enterprise – or your industry – and bring them to your attention. Test the waters when looking for an accountant by asking them how they would do things differently if they were running your business? Or what opportunities or threats they see on the horizon?

3. They just “get” you

A personal rapport can be as important as faith in your accountant’s professional abilities. This is where personal recommendations can help. Ask colleagues, friends and family for advice. A good accountant will understand your business goals, your personal situation, your motivations and your dreams.

4. They know your industry

It stands to reason that the more familiar your accountant is with your industry, the more insight and advice he will be able to offer. Here, it pays to ask around professional networks for recommendations. Family businesses often differ from other enterprises and benefit from specialist accountants.

5. You share the same software

Anything that makes doing business easier pays off many times over, explains KPMG’s Bruce Sinclair. “When it’s easy, it’s less expensive, it’s more efficient, less frustrating and it frees up your brain space to focus on the things it should be focused on.” Ask what software your accountant prefers. If it’s something you’re already using, great. If not, you should consider changing. Syncing software means your accountant can check your metrics in real time in a format they’re familiar with. You can also check in over the phone if there’s a problem and know you are both literally on the same page/screen. 

Opening your books – and your life – to your accountant is a big decision. Here’s some tips on what to look for:

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