Has anyone else found, after the year we’ve all just had, that the thought of doing anything remotely requiring effort just seems like a massive slog. Even the thought of attempting yet another box set is met with an almighty mental sigh.
That’s OK though; this year has kicked the shit out of every one of us. We haven’t had the nourishment that socialising with friends provides; the parents among us have been divided into multiple pieces—one part (questionable) teacher, one part professional, one part preparer of oh-so-many meals, one part reluctant cleaner; and, we’ve all hit the emotional wall more than once. If that doesn’t mount up to a great big glut of demotivation then we don’t know what does.
But, and the glorious thing about this is that there is a significant but, the days are getting longer and the weather is warming up which can only mean one thing: spring. Finally. The season of new beginnings, which frankly couldn’t be more apt right now, is upon us.
It’s time to pull up your positive pants and look ahead at what you can do to reinvigorate not just your post-lockdown life at home, but also your business going forward too. Money has never been a more precarious, precious and strained asset than it is now, so are you absolutely sure yours is in the right hands?
There are many misplaced myths out there about switching accountants and also a fair few reasons why you should consider making a change, especially in light of COVID’s far-reaching consequences. So, in the spirit of the general air of not-being-arsed that’s temporarily pervading most of our motivational stores, we’ve done the legwork for you. You’re welcome.
Common myths about switching accountants
It’s just too much of a ballache
The ultimate folklore in the ‘reasons it’s too much hassle to change accountants’ arsenal, this one needs to be addressed first because it’s often bandied about by people that haven’t changed accountants for eons—you know, the ones who still think you have to go into a physical bank branch to order a new cash card.
Well, just as much as online banking is very much a thing, so is a new breed of accountants, who do everything for you including requesting clearance from your previous accountant and contacting HMRC to get authorisation to be your accountant.
If the state of your books is actually what’s holding you back, modern, savvy accountants will be happy to take on the challenge even if you’ve never done bookkeeping before, or have left your books to fester for months (or even years); customer service is a major player in every industry now, so don’t expect less from your new accountant.
All accountants are the same
This was not supposed to be an ego-stroking session based around our awesomeness, but you know what, we’re the best case study here…
Clic was born from a desire to change the outdated stereotype of old-school accountants—you know, guys in grey suits, stuffy meeting rooms and piles of paperwork—the type of business you only called up once a year to chat tax. That’s not us. We’re a team of tech-savvy, modern accountants, bookkeepers and creative business-loving folks who are here for one reason: to make life easier for the growing businesses of the UK, because every company’s struggles and needs are utterly different, and we get that.
We’re not alone, we get that too, but if you can’t find an accountant that’s embracing all the progressive, time-saving bells and whistles that come with modern business processes then you’re not looking hard enough.
It’s a nightmare to change accounting software
I’ll hold my hands up here; I’m one of those weirdos who gets a new laptop and then cautiously eyes up the box for a few days before biting the bullet and setting it up. More often than not though, it’s the thought of what you might have to get your head around, technologically, when you make a switch to a new piece of kit or to a new service provider that holds you back more than actually doing it.
If your new accountant is really clued up, you’ll be able to carry on using whatever accounting software you currently use, Quickbooks instead of Xero for example, because they’ll work with what you have (although they’ll probably, and should, give you advice on the best software to use).
Let alone keeping up with Gen Zs who were born with actual AirPods for their actual ears and are now of employable age, cloud computing is unquestionably the future (the UK is the world’s third biggest investor in cloud computing with a figure that currently stands at £10 billion) and any accountancy business that knows this (FYI, they should know this) will have employed experts across multiple cloud accounting platforms.
It might just be that you’re stuck in your ways too—a bitter pill to swallow perhaps, but listen to your new accountant; there’s a reason you’re switching, so let them suggest what’s most appropriate for your needs.
You’ve been with your accountant forever
Cool, we get it, you’ve known Jeff for 23 years, he’s a family friend and he also runs an accountancy business, but read those details about Jeff again and you’ll likely be hit with the stark realisation that those are the only reasons he’s still your accountant—in order of what works best for him and the avoidance of awkwardness, but what probably doesn’t work for you anymore. Why else are you looking at an article about switching accountants, hmm?
As with a personal breakup, the cutting ties of any long-standing relationship is never easy—especially when the person you’re parting ways with has become ingrained into your personal life as well as your professional, but loyalty is never the best thing for your business if it’s holding you back.
Yes, it’ll be temporarily gut-wrenching for both you and Jeff to let him know—while he’s stood on a stool ransacking a filing cabinet taller than him for a receipt from 1994—that you’re wanting to evolve your company in line with a paperless, cloud-based future, but ultimately, your relationship with your accountant is a professional one and he’ll soon understand that your needs have changed even though he’ll be sorry to see you go.
The sub-myth that people find an accountant and stay with them for decades is exactly that, another myth; it’s quite common, it does happen to most accountants, and it’s not a big deal (10 points if you can guess that paraphrased reference).
Top reasons you should consider switching accountants
They aren’t paying you enough attention
Does your accountant talk to you regularly? Checking in when anomalies pop up or you haven’t responded to a query within the timeframe that’s usual for you? If you’re only being offered a once-a-year 30-minute meeting to go over the same stuff you’ve talked about year-in-year-out, that’s not good enough.
You should expect monthly help from them at the very least, and that should include advice on topics that are tricky to broach. Your accountant isn’t just there to sort out basic bookkeeping and necessary tax returns, and should be there to support you with the tougher topics that building a business involves like exit and retirement plans, cashflow and overheads.
They only do the bare minimum
Compliance is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accounting and if your accountant is meeting your initial expectations that’s all well and good, but is it enough? In a word, no.
An unofficial business coach if you will, modern accountants should want to (and expect to) play a pivotal role in helping you grow your company via the business ambitions that you’ve chatted to them about. They should be offering you a supportive package that includes day-to-day bookkeeping alongside an advisory role to help you achieve your goals, and you should definitely feel like you can pick up a phone to talk anything through at any time.
We’re not suggesting an excellent accountant will be there for you at 2am to chat work—keep it professional in line with the hours you both keep—but any accountant that proffers a business card and suggests waiting until your annual meeting to catch up isn’t up to scratch.
Their work style doesn’t match up with yours
If you’re a modern, tech-savvy business, you don’t need an accountant stuck in 1984. Just shy of 10 years since Apple first launched their cloud tech, most of us take it for granted that we can store, share and provide data, applications, services and software through the internet at the click of a button, and cloud computing is a massive part of our everyday lives.
It’s taken over the world and rightly so; with AI developing at a rapid rate behind closed doors, and at least two generations that appear to survive solely through their phones, the days of desktop tech and paper are gone. Cloud accounting and a paperless approach to business are very much the defining traits of an accountant with their finger on the pulse who will offer online solutions for everything—Xero in place of desktop accounting software, for example, or Dext (formerly Receipt Bank) and Expensify for receipts and expenses. It is 2021 after all.
Here at Clic, we’re pretty proud to have been named one of the top 10 digital accountants in the Digital Accountancy Awards 2020 and everything we do is 100% cloud-based—from your initial set up through your year-end tax returns—so you’ll always know exactly where your business stands with accurate, online finances, and no more paperwork. Ever. Rejoice.
Your accountant doesn’t understand your business
While you don’t need to give your accountant a running commentary of what you do all day every day, they need to have a firm understanding of how your industry works so they can assess what your pain points, challenges and busier/quieter periods throughout the year are, which requires transparency from you, but a healthy level of interest from them too.
If they haven’t taken the time to get their head around what your particular needs are, you’ll have to ‘make do’ with general business advice, which you should never have to—an accountant that wants to establish a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with you will spark conversations about your future plans in line with how your business is currently performing so they can suggest a clear and successful path forward.
You get surprise invoices (and not in a good way)
10 minute phone call? That’ll be £50 please. Half-hour progress meeting? Slapped with a £350 invoice. If you’re living in constant fear of getting huge bills from your accountant, it’s time to switch.
Lots of accountants (like us) provide clearly outlined packages with a flat monthly fee, so you know exactly what’s included with the fixed price you’re paying and won’t dread the arrival of yet another unplanned invoice. If you need extras, a good accountant will explain the additional fees up front. Find an accountant that spells out in as few words as possible exactly what’s included within the amount you’re being invoiced for and that offers up a menu of clearly priced extras so you know what’s coming should you opt for some additional help.
They aren’t saving you money
There are so many factors that combine to make up a successful business, but fundamentally profit is queen bee. Just as much as you’ll need to constantly monitor and measure the success of your business in line with a healthy profit margin, your accountant should also play a pivotal role in maximising it by way of helping you spot any business cost savings, making you aware of any money-making opportunities for your business, keeping you up-to-date with the latest rules, allowances and legislations, and, crucially, saving you money on taxes. If you’re not chatting about these things and how they slot into your future goals then alarm bells should be ringing.
It’s a far more healthy mindset to see myths as opportunities, which they are more often than not, and what might seem like a daunting task may well be a chance to change your business for the better, which is certainly true where switching accountants is concerned.
There’s never been a more pressing time to futureproof your business and the right accountant for you will work as an extension of your team, helping your company become fit to face the future and identifying areas of financial opportunity and growth along the way.