Tips for Finding Expert Accounting and Bookkeeping Services – Choosing a Chartered Accountant

Whether you run a small local business or are in charge of an international company, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your business finances. From staff payroll to tax contributions, every business has procedures they have to follow, which can be difficult when you’ve got a thousand and one other tasks on your hands. It’s important to keep accurate records of all your financial transactions, and if you’re stressed or busy this might be one of the first things to let slip.

Luckily, this is where professional accounting services come to the rescue; a chartered accountant has all the skills and qualifications needed to take care of bookkeeping and accounts on your behalf. From professional advice to account auditing, financial reporting and more, accountants provide many valuable services, so it’s important to select the right one for your business. If you’re thinking about hiring an accountant for the first time, or switching companies, read on for a brief guide about the services a chartered accountant can provide and how to select the most suitable candidate.

What is a chartered accountant?

As you might expect, a chartered accountant provides many of the services that a regular accountant does, however they have a higher level of training and qualifications so you can be sure that you’re getting a certain degree of expertise.

To become a chartered accountant candidates need to have successfully passed the ACA, a highly respected qualification that involves at least three years of on the job training and a series of exams. While accountants tend to specialise in one area of finance, a chartered accountant will often be responsible for all financial records for a business, as well as providing professional advice and financial expertise. They tend to work in sectors such as large non-profit organisations, government, large corporations or the industrial sector.

What services do they provide?

It’s vital to think about the specific needs of your business before hiring an accountant, and it’s worth weighing up what it is you need that a chartered accountant can provide over a regular accountant. Below we will look at a few of the specific services they offer so you can decide whether it’s right for your business.

Accounting audits

Accounting audits are one of the most important tasks performed by a chartered accountant, and they are used to make sure a company’s financial statements are accurate. It also examines whether the company’s accounting systems are functioning as effectively as possible, if there are any weaknesses that can be identified and what, if any, steps can be taken to eliminate the risks of accounting errors or fraud.

Taxation

As you might expect, tax services are a big part of what a chartered accountant provides for a business. A CA can offer tax compliance services, which assess the degree to which the taxpayer is abiding by tax laws, e.g declaring earnings, filing tax returns and paying taxes on time.

A chartered accountant can help businesses get all their taxes in order, and also offer advice on where money might be saved, as well as general best practice for how businesses manage their taxes. This includes tax planning to minimise tax liability where possible, and any tax issues that might arise from business mergers or acquisitions.

Management accounting

A chartered accountant will be trained to analyze and interpret financial data in order to advise a company how best to manage and develop their business. It includes formulating policies, performance evaluations and analyzing business costs to produce reports and records that can be used to further a company’s performance.

Financial and investment planning

This includes developing effective strategies to improve and strengthen financial security, advice for managers on making important financial decisions, assistance putting financial plans into action and ongoing management of a company’s investments.

Investment planning helps a business manage their financial goals with the resources available, as well as advice on how and where to invest, for example whether to use cash, bonds, equities or property.

Share valuation

This simply calculates the total value of any private or public company’s shares based on quantitative techniques. Share value will depend on market demand and supply, and share valuation is often calculated in the event of a company takeover, merger or acquisition.

Business advice

A chartered accountant can offer your business advice covering a wide range of scenarios, from business transactions like mergers, to how to improve certain areas of the business, dealing with insolvency, tax and treasury issues and expert advice regarding investments or future business plans.

Cost accountancy

This involves recording all costs incurred by a company’s activities and coming up with a plan of action to improve efficiency. It includes assigning certain costs to products and services the company needs, and how best to manage the budget set by the management. A chartered accountant could advise how best to split costs amongst certain outgoings, products or services to ensure the company is operating as cost efficiently as possible.

How to find the best candidate

As you can see from the services listed above, a chartered accountant provides many specialist services on top of those offered by a regular accountant. If you’re making a one-off important financial decision, or run a large company with complicated finances, a chartered accountant can help. They also offer peace of mind that the advice given is up to a certain professional standard and level of accuracy, and they are regulated by a professional body with its own high standard of policies and procedures.

You can also be sure that they have a certain level of experience (minimum three years) working and training on the job before obtaining their qualification, and they can aid a business to thrive and grow, going above and beyond the usual tasks of keeping records and filing tax returns. If you think a chartered accountant is right for you, see below for a few ways to find an accountant to suit your needs.

Check the ICAEW database

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has an online database that provides the only directory of chartered accountants in England and Wales. An ICAEW registered accountant or firm gives you the guarantee that they have passed the necessary qualifications to become a professional chartered accountant.

All members will have obtained their initial qualification from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), as well as the higher Association of Chartered Certified Accountants qualification (ACCA).

Use social networks

This is applicable to both online and offline networks; ask any family and friends with their own business about their accountants and who they would recommend, although bear in mind that every business is different and what they value highly might not work for you.

You can also make good use of social networks online, LinkedIn is a great place to start searching for recommended accountants, and even Facebook can be useful for getting the word out there. 

Think about location

Nowadays, more and more companies are choosing to work with accounting firms online, using cloud-based technology to manage all their affairs. This makes a local location less of an issue, but it all comes down to personal preference. If you’re comfortable communicating via phone, email and video calls, then you could choose a chartered accountant based anywhere in the world. If you do choose an accountant abroad, make sure they’re up to date and know the tax laws in your country inside out to prevent any crucial mistakes.

However, some people believe there is no substitute to building a face-to-face relationship, so if that sounds like you then you’ll need to research accountants based in your area, or those willing to travel on an occasional or regular basis.

If you’re looking for highly experienced, friendly chartered accountants in Birmingham, get in touch with Barron & Co Ltd. Our professional and reliable team of chartered accountants are fully equipped to adapt to the needs of your business, whether that’s a global company, sole trader or charity organisation. If you need accounting bookkeeping services, company registration, business and tax advice and much more, we come highly recommended and can be on hand to help with any issue you may have. For more information and to discuss how we can help your business thrive, give us a call or visit our website.