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Tips on managing accountancy fees

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Thursday June 16, 2011 at 10:00am

Here’s something you might not expect me to offer as an accountant – but in the spirit of wanting to help small and owner managed businesses I’m offering you my top tips to help you keep accountancy costs down.

Tip 1 – Be organised

Organise your books and keep clear records. When preparing a tax return or a set of accounts, if your business books and records are in a mess or items are missing it will take your accountant longer to carry out the work and time is money.

Tip 2 – Use an appropriate book-keeping method

Many people wrongly believe that if they use a software programme to keep their books then it will dramatically reduce their accountant’s time and subsequently their bill. Yes, if a good book-keeping package or spreadsheet is used correctly then it should save your accountant considerable time. The emphasis here however is on “used correctly”.

If you are going to use a computer package like Sage, then make sure you understand how it works and enter data correctly. If a software package is used incorrectly it can take longer to unravel than it would have done to prepare accounts from a good set of manual records. I think you should always take advice from your accountant prior to implementing any new book-keeping method.

Tip 3 – Get the maths right

If your accountant has to spend time correcting simple errors in your records then your bill will be needlessly higher.

Tip 4 – Provide your books in good time

Ask your accountant when they need your books by, to meet filing deadlines, and make sure you meet that deadline.

Some accountants charge extra, for the overtime they have to pay staff to work on clients records to meet deadlines if the client has supplied their records to them late. (We don’t by the way.)

Tip 5 – Allow your accountants to earn their keep

Instead of just being a financial burden most good Chartered Accountants will be able to help you improve your business and suggest ways to save you tax. They can only do this if you share your business plans with them, ask them for the benefit of their expertise and listen to their advice.

Tip 6 – You get what you pay for

The term “accountant” is not regulated in the UK. This means that anyone can call themselves an accountant regardless of qualifications and experience. Many “accountants” with no professional qualifications are very cheap, but often are largely unregulated and may not have professional indemnity insurance.

A Chartered Accountant will have expertise and experience that could save you tax and help you build your business. As they are regulated by a professional body and required to hold adequate professional indemnity insurance you are protected should they make a mistake. An accountant who is not qualified and chartered is unlikely to be able to provide you with up to date tax advice or keep you on the right side of the latest HMRC rules and regulations. So be very careful and make sure you know what you’re getting when you appoint a new accountant.

Andy Parker
Chartered Accountant Birmingham

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Parker Chartered Accountants and Financial Advisors is the trading name for Parker Business Development Ltd (Registered No. 4116664), Parker Tax and Trust Ltd (Registered No. 06950353) and Parker Financial Planning LLP (Registered No. OC347027). Parker Financial Planning LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. All companies are registered in England and Wales – registered office contact details here