By Lyndsey Hall
It’s easier than ever to keep track of your own business finances and, using the government’s new digital tax system, submit your tax returns online. You might feel like paying a professional to do it for you is simply a waste of money—money that could be better spent on growing your business or rewarding your team.
And you may be right.
For some businesses, the burden isn’t too great and the process is quick and simple. For others, it’s time-consuming and complicated. You might have a head for numbers and keep thorough records, you might even enjoy the job satisfaction of knowing you’ve met your requirements with HMRC single-handedly. Or, you might be worried that you’ll make a mistake and receive a hefty penalty, or even come under investigation by the taxman.
Even if you’re willing and able to comply with the Revenue’s expectations without the help of an accountant or tax advisor, you could still benefit from the advice and support that a reputable advisor would offer.
Why should I use a reputable advisor?
Accountants are the general practitioners of the business world, helping clients with everything from a simple audit, to a lengthy application for a business grant, or a complicated management buyout.
We support business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the entire business lifecycle, helping to craft a business plan, build a strategy for the next one, five and ten years, and even advising clients on exit strategies, retirement and pension planning.
Chartered Accountants train for years, and do regular continuing professional development (CPD) courses in order to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations. We’re held to account for our mistakes by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) , the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and other professional organisations, which adhere to the code of Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT), a standard shared and written by the largest accountancy and tax professional bodies.
We’re insured against our mistakes, which means you’ll never have to worry about paying an incorrect tax bill as a result of our error. You’re protected from day one with a reputable advisor.
How do I find a reputable advisor?
The best way to find a trustworthy, reliable business advisor is by word of mouth. If a friend or colleague has had a good experience and recommends their past or current advisor, arrange a meeting and see if they could be a good fit for you too.
Everyone has different needs and expectations, so it’s best to meet face to face and discuss your requirements before making a decision, as you might not gel with the advisor the same way your friend does, but recommendations are a good place to start.
Once you’ve met a couple of potential advisors, you’ll start to get a feel for what you want from your final choice. Is it a professional manner and a list of big name clients? Or a more friendly, down-to-earth advisor who you’d feel comfortable calling to chat about your affairs regularly? Are you looking for someone local who will come out to your business premises and feel like a part of your team? Or would you prefer a predominantly digital relationship, where you submit your documents and receive a monthly report by email, never having to worry about making time for meetings or small talk?
Make a list of your preferred options, and use it as a checklist for each advisor you consider, allowing you to see at a glance who might be the best fit. Price should be a factor, but try not to let it come down to choosing the cheapest advisor, as you really do get what you pay for when it comes to reputable business advisors. The added cost may be covering their ongoing training, membership to professional bodies, and subscriptions to important trade journals – essential items for any expert advisor.
The digitisation of the tax system may have made it easier than ever to manage your own business finances, and if you’ve got the time it could be a short term money-saver. But you could be missing out on invaluable advice and support, help with plans, decisions, funding and grant applications and tax relief requests. You may make costly mistakes that could have been avoided by an experienced tax advisor, leading to an HMRC investigation that your accountant could have prevented, or supported you through.
Before you decide to go it alone, consider the long term benefits of engaging a reputable business advisor, and decide if it’s worth taking the risk.