Over the last few weeks, this topic has been discussed several times in networking meetings and also with prospective clients.
Many Accountants like to say it is a difficult thing to do and try and instill the thought that it takes time and will cost money. The fact is, it can be done fairly easily with minimum of fuss, although it is not a decision to be taken lightly if you have built a good working relationship with your accountant. But of course, businesses move on, expand, contract, and even your accountants own business may change.
Like any other service or supply to your business, you should always ask yourself if you are getting good value for money out of your accountant. They can be a necessary evil of expenditure for any business, but developing a relationship with them outside the yearly compliance role can enhance your business. Of course, they will be there if you just need compliance work and tax returns completed too.
You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I getting value for money – assuming you know the value you want?
- Does my accountant fully understand my business needs and what the plans are to grow the business in the future.
- Is the service satisfactory and are returns filed in good order and on time?
- Could I get better service elsewhere?
- Has my business outgrown my accountant?
- Is my business treated like just another number to a large firm of accountants?
How to change in it’s simplest for is shown in the infographic below.
In it’s simplest form if you were coming to us as you new accountant, the process involves:
- Professional ethics mean we need to make contact with your current accountants for clearance to act on your behalf and also to obtain past years accounts, tax returns & paperwork.
- Legally we need to comply with anti-money laundering laws so will need proof of identity before we can work with you.
- The other main element is that we need to have your authorisation to deal with your tax affairs with HMRC so a form will need your signature.
We do offer an easy change process and we’ll handle all the communication for you which will invoice you signing a couple of letters/forms.
Performance Accountancy are happy to meet with people for a no-obligation discussion on what we can offer you & your business, and what you would require from us. Price alone is never the determining factor. Call us on 01344 669084 or email on [email protected]
If you’d like to know the full process of changing accountants, here you go:
- Select a changeover date that is going to cause the least disruption in your business. The most obvious change date is the end of the business financial year. If you change mid-year, you may end up having additional catch up fees as your new accountant needs to re-create what your old accountant has already done. This is especially true if your old accountant is also doing the bookkeeping for you.
- Ensure all financial responsibilities to your accountant are discharged i.e. all outstanding bills paid.
- Inform your current accountant that you are planning to change and they have permission to converse with your new accountant for the purpose of handover of paperwork and information. Of course, if you want to avoid the possible awkward call or email to say you are leaving them, we can draft a letter for you to sign and send it on your behalf.
- Your old accountant should produce a disengagement letter stating what work they have done; key dates and information, and they will want a sign off from you.
- Your new accountant will write to the outgoing accountant asking for professional clearance along with any relevant paperwork. In this letter, we will ask your old accountant if there is any reason why we cannot take you on as a client. This is a professional formality and does not normally present any problems.The information collected will include previous year’s accounts & tax returns, reconciliations and any bookkeeping work they may have done on your behalf. Your old accountant should provide the information within a “reasonable time” for which there may or may not be a fee. It should not be more than an hour charged.
- Your new accountant will usually send some type of registration form to capture your personal and limited company information. For Performance Accountancy, this takes place as a secure on-line form. Your new accountant will also need to carry out an anti-money laundering check on you – this is a legal requirement. A ‘Letter of Engagement’ sets out the expectations and requirements between the client and the accountant which needs to be agreed and signed. Usually there are standard terms of business and a separate fee letter. Make sure this is signed and returned to your new accountant otherwise it is assumed to be agreed after 31 days from the date issue.
- The final stage is to assign authority to your new accountant for your tax affairs. This means that your accountant can file on your behalf personal tax returns, partnership returns and all the limited company tax and companies house issues. Your new accountant will be the first port of call from HMRC. This authority (64-8) does not absolve your responsibility for the tax returns; your accountant is just doing it on your behalf. The final responsibility for correct submission of tax returns and so forth lies with you, not your accountant.
- After a few weeks, assuming there are no hold ups, all your accounting information should have been transferred and you will be safely on board with your new accountant. Please, never leave this until January for self-assessment, as the transfer of records and authority won’t have time to go through.