An Australian accountant can offer any business a huge range of professional services, however are all those services necessarily right for you? In spite of this, and more to the point, are you and your accountant right for each other? You may be willing to do a lot of the bookkeeping in your business yourself, however do you know what your accountant needs from you to perform his side of the deal?
There is an axiom in business that says that a happy Australian accountant is a good accountant, so to help you keep your accountant happy and content, we present you with a list of six ways in which you can remain in your accountant’s good graces. Just follow the guidelines below, and you will have an accountant for life.
There are no stupid questions, however you are not paying your accountant to guess how much you know about the tax laws or anything else that could get you into trouble with the authorities. Accountants may be clever, however they are also human, and they hate surprises as much as everybody else does, so be sure to ask the right questions, and explain your needs and expectations as best you can.
Two of the best ways to keep an Australian accountant happy is never to do anything without telling him/her about it, and you understanding that they are better at accounting than you could ever be. So with this in mind, ask your accountant what they need from you for him/her to be a positive force in your business, and keep to it.
Both parties will benefit from a clear division of responsibilities, such as you supplying your records in good time. However, more than that, you will have a happy accountant.
Agree to the scope of work required
Accountants are no different from other professionals, and they cannot afford to waste time speculating about the work they have to do for you, and/or at what fee. When you hire an Australian accountant, agree to the scope of work required, at what rate of compensation, and do it in writing.
Also, resist the temptation to ask for “quick favours”. The accounting profession does not recognise the words “quickly”, and “favours”, so if you have an unexpected task or report work such as a cash flow forecast, some other crisis only your accountant can do or resolve, contact him/her to get a quote on the costs involved.
There is nothing so guaranteed to get an accountant riled up as having to work for free or at a reduced rate, because they are accountants after all- they count every penny, and especially their own.
Keep proper records, and raise queries in time
Accountants hate sorting through ten garbage bags stuffed with invoices, cash slips, IOU’s, and everything else that constitutes records as much as you hate paying for the extra time it takes to get your records in order.
Therefore, keep proper records, and keep everything together. Don’t file March invoices in the file marked “November”, and don’t file “Invoices Due” with “Cash Receipts”. We are sure you get the idea, however your Australian accountant might not, and apart from having to pay more for the extra time, you will be making your accountant’s life a misery.
Moreover, if you are unsure about anything that concerns your records, raise the issue immediately- don’t wait for your annual management accounts to arrive before mentioning the fact that you had invested in some expensive new equipment four months ago – without telling anyone.
Make your accountant’s life as easy as you can by supplying all relevant information as soon as you can- even before he/she asks for it. The extra effort will reap huge rewards in the form of accurate, relevant, and professional advice and services.
Respond to questions and queries fully, and promptly
No accountant can tolerate sloppy record keeping, since as professionals, they have a legal obligation to report suspicious business practices. Not that we are suggesting impropriety on anybody’s part, however you will be making your accountant’s life much easier if you respond to any questions or queries he/she might have about your records.
As far as the tax laws go, refusing to, or merely being tardy in supplying an explanation to a query could trigger red flags in all the wrong places at the ATO, and it might hit you in the pocket in the worst possible way. So keep your accountant happy and yourself out of trouble by responding to queries promptly.
Raise concerns early
When you hire an accountant, your ultimate aim should be the establishment of a long-term, professional relationship. Thus, any concerns about the professionalism of your accountant should be raised immediately. For all you know, your concerns may be nothing more than a misunderstanding, however ignoring issues will not only make you unhappy, it will do the same thing for your accountant as well.
Accountants are not your friends- they are professionals who can make or break your business, and an unhappy accountant is much more likely to break your business than to make it. Thus, supply any feedback on the services you receive in a professional manner- your accountant will appreciate the opportunity to improve his/her level of service.
Be prepared to move on
Many people, including accountants, make poor choices and then stick with those choices for any number of wrong reasons. There is no point in sticking with a business relationship that does not work- be prepared to shop around and move on.
Who knows, you may be making two accountants happy, the one you are leaving, by leaving, and another who may be a better fit for both you and your business.