Why it’s actually not that hard to change accountants
By Jarrod Dengate
It can be a daunting decision to change accountants, and one that should not be made lightly. However, it can be a decision that allows your business to grow and could end up being a blessing in disguise. When deciding if you should change accountants, good questions to ask yourself are:
- Do they have a real understanding of my business?
- Are they approachable?
- Are they easy to contact?
- Am I getting what I pay for or what they promised?
From these questions, the most frequent complaints people make about their accountant include:
- Poor client service e.g. missed phone calls or slow responses
- Unexpected fees and poor value for money
- Deadlines not being met
- Not proactive, don’t assist in future planning as they are too focused on the past
- Lack of tactical knowledge, or too much use of jargon
- Their business has outgrown the services offered
If you believe you can get better service elsewhere, you probably can. Even if some businesses or individuals have these, or other complaints about their accountant, they still might choose to stay. Usually, this is because they have been with their accountant for too long and believe it would be too hard to change. That is a common misconception, and in reality it is a very simple process.
1. Find a new accountant
It is important for you to do your own research. There are a wide range of accounting firms and they all offer their own experience, methods and specialities. Key aspects to consider are:
Size of the Firm – are they big enough or small enough to suit your business?
Location – are they close/easy to get in touch with?
Fees – are they in your budget?
Service offerings – what other services do they provide that could help your business?
Technology – Do they have suitable software to record your business transactions? Can you understand or operate the accounting software they use?
Experience – can they deliver what you need? Have they done similar jobs before?
Personnel – do they seem interested and want to understand your business?
2. Client gives notice
After you’ve found the right accountant, you must contact your previous accountant to give notice of the change. A small email is enough to let them know, and should include details of the new firm and the date of the change. It is important to do this as your existing accountant requires something in writing before they can release your records to your new accountant.
3. Transfer of records
Then it is up to the new accountant to get any information needed from the old accountant so they can start looking after your affairs. Your new accountant will send an ‘ethical clearance letter’ to your
previous accountant, firstly questioning whether there are any professional/ethical reasons why they should not accept the appointment and secondly, requesting necessary information.
© Fitzpatrick Group 2017
Jarrod Dengate – Accountant
Jarrod started working with Fitzpatrick Group in August 2016. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong, specialising in Accounting and Economics.