Selecting the right accountant is up there will picking the right auto mechanic and financial advisor. There is a high level of trust required between both parties and pressure put on the relationship. Having the right small business accountant on your side is so vital to your financial health and ultimately your business success.

Thanks Xero for sharing some advise – we’ve picked out the best bits. Enjoy.

Top tips for choosing an accountant

Once you’ve decided it’s time to hire an accountant, the next step is to choose which accountant to hire.

It’s in your company’s best interests to have an experienced, capable person handling one of the most important areas of your business – your finances. The right person will save you time and money year after year. So here are some things you should consider when you’re choosing an accountant.

Ask yourself if location matters

Do you really need to meet them, or are virtual meeting sufficient?

It used to be important to have your company’s accountant located nearby. But today, more companies are collaborating online, using cloud-based technology to manage their business.

The decision about where to find your accountant really comes down to what suits your company best. Depending on how you want to handle the finances, your accountant could really be based anywhere in the world.

Choose a certified or chartered accountant

In many countries, accountants are regulated by professional bodies which look after accounting qualifications and try to maintain high professional standards. Depending on the country you’re in, professional accountants may be called Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Accountants. Chartered Accountants (CAs) are highly qualified professionals who have completed degree-level study along with workplace experience and a professional competence program.

Given the greater experience and knowledge that a certified or chartered accountant has, they’ll be able to add value to your business right from the start. And if you expect your company to grow, it’s a good idea to hire a professional accountant at the beginning rather than later on.

Of course, it is possible to use accountants who aren’t certified, chartered or registered, but it might an unwise business move. Tasks such as bookkeeping, tax preparation and general financial management might not require a certified or chartered accountant. But you will almost certainly need one if your company grows to the point when you need a loan, or if you’re ever audited.

Look for an accountant with relevant expertise

Ask your prospective accountant what other companies and industries they have worked for.

You’ll need someone with experience preparing tax returns and financial documents for companies of a similar size and revenue to yours.

Talk to government, chambers, or business associations

In Vancouver we have SmallBusinessBC non-profit group who supports business owners, as well as Chamber of Commerce (boards of trade) in most cities.

As a small business owner, take advantage of networks of business advisors available to help you make decisions like choosing the right accountant. There are often voluntary organizations and local chambers of commerce willing to advise you too. Make use of these, as they are there to help you and their advice is usually free.

Tap into your social networks

When searching for an accountant, the ideal candidate might be right under your nose. Start by asking any friends or family members who own small businesses if they would recommend their accountant. If so, why? And if not, why not? The answers to both questions could prove useful at a later stage, when you come to interview candidates.

Bear in mind that choosing an accountant can be a personal decision, so what’s right for your best friend’s PR business might not suit your manufacturing company. Also take into account differences in business structure. The best accountant for a sole trader might not be the best fit for a company with ten employees.

Get someone who’s proactive about saving you money

Some accountants will do little more than manage your accounts and complete your tax return forms, but the best accountants are more proactive. So before choosing an accountant, ask what they could suggest to save your business money.

Interview before you decide

An interview can be a powerful way to see how well you’re likely to be able to work with a person. And a series of interviews will not only help you better define the type of accountant you need, but also gain you valuable free advice. This may even help you determine your own business requirements more clearly.