The good news is that yes, you absolutely can change your accountant, whenever you like. It’s usually a relatively easy process and if managed well, will cause minimal disruption to business-as-usual.
It might even make the transition easier, rather than piling it on top of the usual year-end madness of tying up loose ends, completing documents and finding receipts.
How will I know if it’s time to change accountant?
Gut telling you something’s not right but you just can’t quite put your finger on it? We’ve compiled some of the most common signs that you should probably consider switching your accountant:
- They’re busting your budget – only work with an accountant you can afford and one which respects your financial boundaries.
- They’re missing deadlines, and it’s not your fault – it’s quite one thing if you didn’t send them the records in time – it’s another if it’s all on them. This is a massive clanger in the world of accounting and can land you and your business in hot water with HMRC.
- You’ve outgrown each other – if your business has expanded rapidly or become more complex, you might now need to seek out the expertise of a more seasoned professional, more niche expertise, or a larger accounting firm with more capacity.
- They’re always difficult to pin down – whether they’re not up to scratch or simply overstretched, you need an accountant who can be reached when you need them. It’s okay to be busy but if they’re a stranger to you, your accountant can’t possibly be doing their job properly.
- You don’t enjoy working with them – the relationship between you and your accountant should be a positive and productive one that makes you feel confident and considered.
- Their systems are outdated – you need an accountant that will adapt and stay up to date with the latest software advancements, like cloud-based bookkeeping. You don’t want to work with an accountant who has you filing Excel spreadsheets, that’s for sure.
- They use jargon you don’t understand – the role of an accountant is to make life easier and simpler for you, not to overcomplicate things and confuse matters.
- Their billing process leaves you in the dark – consider working with an accountant who bills you annually and allows you to pay it in monthly instalments. Don’t work with one who invoices you by the hour and makes you pay through the nose for every phone call.
If you’re resonating with one, some or even all of the above, it’s time to consider cutting ties and moving on to pastures new.
What should I do if I want to change my accountant?
Before you make any final decisions, it is always worth raising issues with your existing accountant – particularly if you’re only dealing with minor hiccups – to see if things can’t be resolved first.
Not everybody deserves a second (or third) chance but some do.
Once you have made up your mind though, there are some best-practice ways of going about things that we thought you ought to know about.
A quick step-by-step guide on how to change your accountant:
- Check the terms & conditions of your contract to see if you’re obligated to a notice period.
- Give your accountant plenty of notice (whether you’re tied to a notice period or not).
- If you already have a new accountant, ask them to send a clearance letter to your old accountant requesting all of the necessary documents and information. This letter also acts as official permission for the new accountant to start acting on your behalf.
- Make sure you’ve got everything you need from your old accountant (if you already have a new accountant lined up, they can help with this) including – but not exclusive to:
- Your personal details and information about your company.
- Full financial statements (including Year Ends).
- Info about fixed assets, trade debtors, debt provisions, prepayments, trade creditors, accruals and capital.
- Information about any stock or work in progress (if your business has stock).
- Details around any lease agreements or hire purchase agreements.
- A CT620 form issued by HMRC for your last accounting period.
- A letter confirming that you have now left the old accountants and they can no longer act on your behalf.
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