How to be a great client

A guide to building the best relationships with your accountant by Ashley MacDonald

How to be the best client to your accountant

Over the years I’ve dealt with a lot of clients. Different sizes, ages and personalities. I couldn’t name them all, no chance, but I could name you the memorable ones, the horror stories of books handed in on deadline day or the clients demanding annual accounts before their year-end.

It got me thinking about people who become self-employed, their mentality towards their work, their business, their life. At the end of the day for most their job is their life, their business is everything, if they lost it, well, it could be the end of a dream or financial instability. So why is it people don’t do the research into all aspects of business before starting?

At Gascoynes we see ourselves very much as an extension to your business, a support service not just a number churning tax calculator. So I’ve put together a guide to how you can improve your relationship with your accountant and in turn hopefully improve your business.

How to be a great client

Research

This is vital when starting up and continuing your own business. When people come to me with a new business they tend to have the trade side sorted, location, products, logo, uniform maybe they’ve already got sales but what they don’t have is any idea about running a business.
I know what you’re thinking that’s our job to inform and educate, and you are correct to some degree. But wouldn’t it be easier to plan a business venture with knowledge of taxes, true employment costs, difference in being self-employed or limited.
You don’t need to know all the answers but you need to know something, it’s your business be prepared.

Top Tip:
check out the HMRC website it gives you a lot of information in one place. https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business

Organisation

There’s a lot going on whether it be a new business or ongoing, paperwork, emails, deadlines.
An organised business is far more likely to succeed than one that ‘goes with the flow’.
If you are aware of the in and outs of your business, the payment due dates, filing deadlines, VAT quarters than you know what needs to be done when, what debts to chase what bills to pay. This allows you to plan for all events in advance. “Be proactive not reactive”.

Top tip:
Find a structure and routine that fits into your working week and allow yourself time to review the business for yourself. Look at what’s important to the business, cash flow, future projects, deadlines, filing dates and then plan ahead. You will find this gives you a greater understanding of your business and a great base to build from.

Communication

This is a tricky one but also one of the most important. As I mentioned earlier your accountant should be an extension of you and therefore be there when needed. That being said don’t call him up because you’re not sure whether to have a latte or a cappuccino.
Talking to your accountant will cost you money, it’s our job to advise so choose your moments carefully. Be confident in your questions and precise in what you expect in return from your accountant, the last thing anyone wants is a long email asking what if scenarios to a million different ideas you have.
At the same time don’t be scared to incur additional fees if you have concerns, sometimes not doing anything is the most harmful thing. It goes back to organisation and being proactive not reactive. Solutions are easier to find when you have more time to solve the issue.

Top tip:
Make sure you don’t just talk to your accountant at your year-end of tax return time. Usually by then it’s too late to do anything.
If they aren’t getting in touch with you send them an email to touch base and let them know how you are doing, voice any concerns and check deadlines. It keeps you in your accountants mind and also builds a relationship with your accountant.

Knuckle down

I’m a great believer in hard work pays off. If you dedicate yourself and go all in then you will reap the rewards, In business and in life.
So how does this help with your accountant well if you want to be successful, if you want to be great, you need to be great at everything and that means your business affairs too. Having a great business model is one thing but it’s nothing without the administration, the organisation the communication. Your business is your house, don’t build an amazing mansion and not decorate it. People will walk in and see the unfinished walls, the lack of furnishings and concentrate on the negatives. Don’t build a business and not be ready to work hard to run it and make sure it succeeds.

Top tip:
Give yourself and the business regular evaluations. Set goals, targets and then see if you reach them. If you do great keep going otherwise look at why not and keep striving for improvement.

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Am I the best now ?

Well only time will tell if you are the best client for your accountant but all I can say is the people I’ve spoken to and who have taken my advice on board are doing pretty well right now.
So next time you’re moaning about your fees or service from your accountant just think did you ROCK (Research, Organise, Communicate, Knuckle down) this year? If not maybe you have the tools now to do something about it. Thanks for reading and I hope it helps.