Wayne Thomas, partner at Bates Weston , looks at what people expect from their accountant and suggests taking a longer term view to choose the right one.

A Google search will tell you that accountants provide financial accounts and administrative support and certainly all qualified accountants should know how to comply with the legal and tax requirements of running a business.

But that really is selling us short. Sure, you can just have your accounts prepared and your tax returns completed, but if you really want to get the most out of your accountant, set the bar higher than that.

Make sure you get an accountant that wants to take an active part in helping your business improve its profitability and plan ahead. One that will actively seek to keep your records digitally – so that they and you can focus on what’s going on in your business day to day. One that will monitor your business performance and actively make suggestions to improve cashflow, cost and stock control. One that can help you budget, forecast, access finance and assess and advise on the financial implications of your business decisions.

Make sure it is one that can grow with you, avoiding the upheaval of changing professional advisors. It is likely that as your business grows you will need higher level planning for business investments, recruiting and incentivising key personnel, wealth protection, corporate restructuring, exit planning, business sale, retirement planning and even will writing and probate services. Make sure your accountants have the specialists you may need in house.

The point we’re making is that when you choose your accountant, it should be the start of a long-term relationship. Think not only about what you and your business need today, but what you may need in the future. Choose an accountant you would be happy to have on your team for the long haul. One who has your back, talks to you in a way that makes sense to you and one that really wants to make a difference to your business.

There can have been no greater test for that relationship than the past year. If your accountant did not step up, ask yourself why not?

When the pandemic hit, our own priority as a firm, was our clients. We did everything we could to make sure we reached them, explaining the business support packages as they were announced and helping them to access all the government support that was available.

As one example, during the course of the pandemic, we helped over 170 clients submit Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims that amounted to more than £8 million of support.

We honoured our commitments to our clients, stayed in touch and absolutely stuck to our promise to make a difference to their businesses.

But don’t take our word for it, listen to what some of our clients had to say:

“Bates Weston have been worth their weight in gold during the Covid 19 Pandemic, they have led us through the Furlough Scheme perfectly. That is the best thing with using Bates Weston, they are there to help in every eventuality and have expert advice to guide you through any situation.”

“It has always felt that you are working with us rather than for us.  You never fail to respond promptly, appropriately and professionally to our needs, making us feel like an individual not just another client. You correctly anticipated the turmoil that Covid-19 was about to unleash and positioned your business and key staff to enable you to continue to provide expert advice and normal service regardless and this has not gone unrecognised.”

If you’re ready to start a new relationship, please do get in touch. There’s no obligation, just an opportunity to see if we are your kind of accountant.