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Accountant needed now. Short guide on how to decide on an accounting firm to work with

Joanna WILCZYŃSKA
Accounting Manager at RSM Poland
 

What is the guiding principle in selecting a good accountant? Who can be trusted to handle your bookkeeping? Such questions are on the mind of every entrepreneur who is about to decide to go for an outsourced bookkeeping service.

Doing the bookkeeping on your own is not always and not necessarily a good idea, and that is mainly because the accounting and tax regulations are confusing and their interpretations differ. Our long experience in saving sinking ships shows that it is simply better to leave some things to professionals.

Therefore, what should you focus on when analysing the offers of accounting firms? Here is a handful of good tips.

Professional, knowledgeable and familiar with the regulations in force

When talking to an accountant with whom you are planning to work with in the long term, it is a good idea to ask one or two questions about the accounting of your company. No professional is going to consider it an attempt to extort a free service from them during an initial consultation. And the entrepreneur will be able to tell the difference between a passionate accountant and one that became an accountant by chance. Any casual answer like “you will be happy with my services” will most probably fail to satisfy your curiosity, and will likely prompt you to keep looking for a service provider.

A good accountant is truly well-versed in all the regulations, keeps learning by way of participating in training sessions and is on top of the changing legislation. What is characteristic for accountants working in professional outsourcing companies, in particular international ones and providing comprehensive consulting services, is that they boast a great experience gained from their cooperation with clients doing business in different legal formats and in many, often unusual, industries.

Price = Quality

It is not worth saving on a good accountant. The consequences of choosing an unreliable service provider tend to cost the taxpayer much more than the service provided by a professional firm, whereas reversing the effects of what they did is usually a difficult, stressful and time-consuming process, and sometimes even turns out to be impossible. There is an old rule that says that good things cost money. There is just no such thing as a quality product or service at a surprisingly low price.

Learn more about outsourcing of accountancyCHECK OUT OUR SERVICE

However, it is worth checking what the method of calculating payments for services provided by the accounting firm is. Is it a lump sum, i.e. a fixed payment depending on the number of accounting records to be processed, or is there an hourly rate charged for the services? Depending on the characteristics of your company, either the former or the latter may prove more cost-effective.

Another thing is to calculate the actual costs of having an in-house accounting department. Surely, these costs go beyond the costs of salaries and social insurance contributions of accountants you hire. Before you decide that an offer from an external provider is more expensive, and if so, how much, you need to carefully analyse all the expenses that come with the in-house service. Finally, you should estimate what the value of other benefits is (some of them intangible) resulting from hiring an external expert (for example, partly transferred responsibility, constant updating of the accounting team or the time saved on the recruitment of your accounting staff). The final cost-benefit analysis may come as a surprise.

Contacting your expert directly

In the times of digital accounting services, it is a good idea to ensure that you can contact a professional face to face. Despite the fact that the latest technological solutions that have improved so much during the coronavirus pandemic enable a quick and smooth exchange of information and data, a  personal contact (also via Zoom or MS Teams) remains the most effective method of communication. Many entrepreneurs appreciate the fact that their accountants are available and meeting them to discuss some of the most difficult things is not a problem. If such a meeting can also be attended by professionals from different fields: accountants, tax advisors, statutory auditors, such a model of cooperation is very welcome. Our clients have already recognised the value of our comprehensive offer and our brand message, i.e. “The power of being understood”.

Addressing future scenarios, anticipating and thinking holistically

The theory that an accountant in an organisation is a recorder of in-house economic processes has become obsolete long ago.

A good accountant is a business partner who knows what the client’s business is all about and tries to anticipate the overall tax consequences of the client’s business efforts.

With some careful analysis and foresight, accountants can identify potential risks in time.

Upon learning about some planned amendments to the regulations, every good accountant immediately thinks about how this may affect his or her clients who are planning huge business ventures, most probably completely unaware of the changes that are coming. And the results of these ventures may become dramatic in the light of the upcoming legislative changes. And that is when the accountant must step in quickly and professionally, saying “we have to discuss it once again.”

Scope of services

“Could you help me out with that, as well?” is what I often hear from clients who are looking for professional support in reporting, tax advisory, business consultancy or HR when taking on some new business ventures. If you entrust your books into the hands of a professional outsourcing company, you usually have a number of experts from different fields at your disposal. If time is of the essence, there is no point wasting it on research and looking for additional support, all the more so since accounting, tax and tax audit aspects are closely connected. Thus, before you start working with an accounting firm, you should check the scope of services they provide. Modern firms offer comprehensive support: apart from bookkeeping and accounting advisory, they take over other activities entrepreneurs are obliged to, e.g. they handle official matters in public offices and institutions, make online bank transfers and organise targeted training sessions for the management and staff. All of this cannot be underestimated.

Summary

Finding a professional and tried and tested accounting firm is not easy. However, the time you spend on this should be considered an investment. If you entrust professionals with your books, you can focus on what matters most: doing your business. All the financial and accounting matters will be handled by outsourced professionals. It will give you the proverbial peace of mind and even more: you will be sure that your taxes are filed properly.

If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of outsourced accounting and HR&payroll services, I encourage you to listen to Smart Business podcast. And should you be interested in RSM Poland’s services, please contact us directly: ekspert@rsmpoland.pl.

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