Choosing the right accountant

Who is keeping score while you are in the game? How do I know if I have the right accountant?
 
We all know that in every business it is important to make 'doing the books' a top priority. Keeping track of your business' performance could mean the difference between success and failure.
 
It takes a certain kind of person to make a good accountant who will ensure that you have the correct accounting information that will enable your business to grow and flourish.
 
What You Would Need To Assess Is Whether Or Not This Person Would Be The 'Right' Accountant Are The Following Key Areas:

  • Qualification; and
  • Personal qualities.

Some points to consider regarding qualification is that you would want someone who has the expertise to perform this function. Your financial information of your business is the most important information you will need and therefore a lot of trust is going to be put into this person. Therefore you want to make sure that the accountant has the correct qualification and expertise that is suited to your business. A good indicator of this is to see whether or not this person is registered with a professional body.
 
A large business' accounting needs versus a small business' accounting needs would differ due to size and complexity of the business and the related reporting requirements.
In most instances a large business would require a Chartered Accountant (CA) SA for this position. This person would be registered with South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA(
 
A Small Business Would Require A Person Who Is Registered With One Of The Following Professional Bodies:

  • Business accountant: This person would be registered with South African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA(
  • Professional Accountant: This person would be registered with South African Institute of Professional Accountants. (SAIPA(

How Do I Assess The 'Right' Accountant, What Do I Need To Look For? Some Personal Qualities of a Good Accountant to Keep In Mind When Choosing the Right Accountant for Your Business:

  • Ethical - Loyalty, honesty and integrity is thought to be important traits, as the accountant needs to respect the confidentiality of the business information.
  • Excellent Time Management - in this highly pressurised environment, the accountant needs to prioritise all work activities to enable him/her to get the work done on time and accurately and to meet all deadlines.
  • Team Player - accountants often have a department to manage and therefore need to be approachable, know how to work with people and to be able to manage their staff. Confident accountants need to be decisive, self-confident and have good judgement.
  • Analytical - accountants not only need to know how to work with numbers and accurately produce accounting records but need to know how to understand and interpret the numbers.
  • Stay Focused - accountants need to stay focused on the task at hand and not be distracted during pressurised times when deadlines need to be met and long hours have been worked. Accountants need to be organised and keep on top of things.
  • Communication - this is essential not only with your team members in your department but the accountant needs to be able to communicate via reports, presentations etc. The accountant must be able to convey financial information to others.

In conclusion, it can be seen that choosing the 'right' accountant for your business is difficult but it needs to be done correctly, as this person needs to be seen as the expert of your business and should be chosen wisely.