The Accountant’s Cost
The first factor is the most obvious and probably perceived as the most important – cost. What the total cost of the advice will be, the emphasis being on total. You need to make sure that the entirety of the instruction is considered, including any further costs down the line as well as any main or initial costs. You may be able to agree any initial consultation as being free of charge, but be careful as to what and when other costs will then come.
So maybe one firm only needs to charge for advice every year, but this cost can be higher than another firm charging every 3 months but being able to keep on top of things every three months with yourself doing day-do-day accounts in the meantime.
The Accountant’s Small Print
The second to fifth factors are what you might refer to as the ‘small print’ with any firm – the way in which they are regulated, making sure they have a valid track record and creditable references, the correct insurance cover in case anything goes wrong and you need to make a claim, and their main terms and conditions. You need to consciously request, receive, and check all this information out and not simply go on claims that are made.
On one extreme, claims such as “we are regulated by such and such an authority” can be blatantly incorrect, but on another extreme they can simply be misunderstood through effective marketing so that yes you are instructing a regulated firm of accountants, but in actual fact the main individuals dealing with your work are still under training. Also, details like the insurance cover and terms and conditions can have little effect at the start of the instruction and only cause issues when things don’t go to plan and a gap emerges between yours and the firm’s expectations of the work.
The Accountant’s Delivery
The final three factors from six to eight are then to do with the ability to deliver your service. This includes looking at the size of the firm and number and location of their branches, and what service they actually provide. This will also depend upon your own circumstances and preferences as well as the actual instruction and workload, so although you may be offering a large volume of work that could more efficiently be carried out with a larger firm with more resources to fulfil this, they may not be able to offer such a personal service that helps provide and interpret this advice to your own situation and understanding