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Does Your Accountant Provide Value, Or Are They Just A Cost?

Accountants are people who do the books, file tax returns and generally fulfill a necessity of life that most business owners would prefer to do with out! Well that is the case the majority of the time, however there are professionals out there who offer services that can really enhance your business’ wellbeing, and as a result your wealth. This brief article looks at some of the areas you could be looking at.

Do you just send your books off for the basic accounting services that you have to get and consider it an unnecessary expense?

I have listed below a selection of services that your accountant could provide you. If they do not, you should consider either getting a new one, or contacting a strategic planning company such as Exit Plan Ltd. Who can kick start what you need to get to the next stage of success, with a plan that ensures you get these services?

Standard Accounting Services
I can only assume if you do use an external accountant that you would at least get the following standard accounting services:

1. Year End Accounts Preparation – at minimum you should get your year end accounts completed efficiently and professionally

2. Tax Planning - The whole purpose of tax planning is to pay less to the government and keep more for you and your business!

3. Financial Management Systems - Your accounting records must be maintained to meet legal and government requirements. Furthermore, they should be capable of efficiently supplying you with the information you need to run your business.

4. Bank and Professional Advisor Selection - Different banks suit different businesses. In some cases it can be a matter of personalities. The same goes for solicitors, financial advisors, and factoring companies.

5. Wealth Management - Your personal financial planning, including mortgages, pensions, investments, life assurances etc, should not be carried out in isolation but part of your overall financial strategy. A good accountancy firm will have strong links with excellent Independent Financial Advisors who can give you all the advice and support you need.

6. Personal taxation issues - You should be able to avail of a full self-assessment management service for business owners, employees and individuals. Starting with a pre-tax year preparatory letter that will help you collate the information required, prepare your annual tax return, calculate your tax liabilities, advise you of future timetables for payment of the tax, check statements of account, obtain any repayments due and help you meet all filing deadlines.

Listed below is what a value added accountant should provide their client. At minimum, they should be able to advise where these services can be obtained.

Analysis of your accounts to identify Performance improvements
So much can be gained from focusing on your financial data. By looking in detail at your financial performance a good accountant who is also a business person should achieve the following for you:

Full analysis of your financial data and performance
Comparison with industry statistics such as performance, turnover, liquidity and employees.
Cash flow management
Overhead analysis
Gross Profit margin analysis
Pricing structures
Analysis of stock levels
Employee efficiency - time management etc.
A full and comprehensive report covering all the above including the steps needed to be taken and what results can be expected.
Review meetings
Managing for Reward
Running a successful business is helped by having up to date financial data. These days it isn't enough to wait until the year end for this information. You should receive regular feedback on the performance of your business in the form of Management Accounts. Indeed you should receive management accounts monthly or at least quarterly from your accountant.

Business Plans and Forecasts
I'm sure you've heard the saying, "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail." This is why it's so important for you to have a "working" business plan and supplementary forecasts. A good accountant or business advisor will help you develop your plan to meet your objectives, and regularly update the plan to for ongoing management use.

Raising Finance
There comes a time in the life of almost all companies when extra finance is needed. Your business is no different. Finance could be needed for a new car, a new piece of machinery, working capital demands, acquiring freehold or leasehold property, and business acquisitions. Getting the right advice using the most sensible and appropriate sources is all that matters. Does your accountant provide this service?

Acquisitions & Disposals
Whether you're considering buying, selling or passing on your business, we offer a full advisory service. This includes valuations, tax planning, market searches, arranging finance and project appraisal. We agree your instructions in advance and offer you a straightforward opinion on the viability or otherwise of your position.

Payroll and Bookkeeping
For many business managers, payroll and bookkeeping are two of the most boring and time consuming tasks necessary for the smooth running of the company. The good news is you don't have to worry about either of them. A good accountant should be able to help you find the right outsourced solution.

So how many of these services do you receive, or did you even know that they existed? It is time accountants shrugged off the mantle of being slaves to business owners’ demands and actually started providing real value.

Submitted by:

Peter Lawless

This article was written by Peter Lawless, founder of 3R Sales and Marketing. For previous articles like this, visit 3R's Articles. Alternatively, subscribe to Success our free monthly Information Bulletin with sales and marketing articles.




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