A great accountant is someone who will make a significant difference to your financial future (and not someone who you throw a pile of poorly kept receipts at once a year). What’s more, technological developments are allowing accountants to have a bigger impact and enhance the client experience at every opportunity.

Whilst this is a clear win for clients, the varying points of difference for each offering mean that more work may be required when finding the right professional for you. Historically, proximity has played a big part for people seeking an accountant – you may have chosen your previous accountant because they have an office nearby or they can come and see you at your business. Now more than ever, consumers need to look beyond that simple filter and seek to find someone who is best suited to your needs.

It can be hard to know what to look for when hunting for the right accountant. To help you, we have complied five of the essential ingredients to the successful accounting relationship:

Find someone that understands your situation

As with all professionals in your life, you want to find an accountant that is focused on building a long-term relationship. Changing accountants can be time consuming as well as costly, so you should be asking yourself if their offering is going to match your needs over the long-term. This is a time to consider the quantitative aspect to the offering, such as whether your accountant is driven to get you the best financial outcomes year-on-year, and how? It’s also a time to also consider qualitative aspects such as service and their communication method. If you are a busy professional with little spare time you may want all correspondence via email – is this achievable?

“Let me be frank”

The best accountants are not going to agree with you on everything. You need objective and thoughtful responses on how to improve your financial life and sometimes this will require a direct approach. Ultimately you have hired a specialist to provide you with unbiased professional advice – look to take that advice wherever possible.

Find someone who will make your life easier

Whether you’re a simple PAYG employee or have many businesses established under a maze of tax structures, you should be seeking peace of mind in your financial relationships. There are generally two requirements to achieve this – competence and trust. In terms of competence, you should be taking reasonable steps to ensure that all professionals in your life are adequately educated and experienced to meet your specific needs. Trust building takes time but find an accountant who you can have absolute trust in, taking comfort in the belief that they’ll be providing you with the best advice every year. Combined, you will be worrying less about your finances and will be able to focus on the meaningful goals in your life.

Stop using the rear-view mirror!

A strong relationship with any professional should be forward-looking and proactive. Going in to see your accountant after 30 June with payslips and statements in hand is like driving a car and only looking in the rear view mirror – the financial year has passed and so have many opportunities to reduce your tax payable. If you are concerned about a big tax bill, the time to discuss this is before the end of the financial year when opportunities may still be available.

Teamwork

Depending on your situation it may be very important to find several specialists to orchestrate the different aspects of your financial life. Your solicitor may provide you with the comprehensive estate planning solutions needed, but would refer you to an accountant for your personal tax needs. Your accountant may provide you with tailored tax minimisation strategies, but would refer you to a financial adviser for specific investment advice. Finding the best professionals may require that you seek these specialists individually and they should all be willing to work together. You will get the most out of your finances when your ‘financial team’ are willing to take a collaborative approach, leveraging the specialist knowledge from one another and working unilaterally to achieve your financial needs and goals.

If you’re on the hunt for a new accountant or considering whether your current accountant is right for you, a referral from a friend or colleague is always a great place to start.

At Northeast, we are constantly looking to partner with other professionals to add more value to our clients and ultimately give them the best chance of achieving the personal and financial goals most important to them. If you are a finance professional with a tailored approach for your clients, we would love to be in touch with you and learn more about your offering.