It can be a minefield trying to find the right accountant and bookeeper for your business, and for your needs. So much to think about, and where to start looking?
If you’re a Xero user, the best place to start is the Xero Partner Directory, but how do you choose the right accountant for you? There are so many to choose from!
In today’s blog I’m going to give you 5 steps to choosing the right accountant or bookkeeper – what to look for, and what it all means!
1. Is it important to find an accountant near you?
This is entirely down to personal choice, as Xero does allow you and us to work any time, anywhere. It used to be true that you’d need a local accountant, so you could meet up, drop info into them etc.
However, now that we have cool tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype etc for virtual meetings, and the joy of online software like Xero and Dext this takes away the need for needing an accountant nearby.
But nothing beats a face to face relationship, so if this is important, make sure you search on your area in the Xero Partner Directory.
Finally – is a good solid relationship with your accountant or bookkeeper more or less important that how close they live to you?
2. How big is the accountancy firm?
The Meet the Team section tells you how many advisors the firm has. So you can choose if you’d prefer to work with a smaller or larger firm. Again, this is entirely down to personal choice, but sometimes big firms can seem less friendly, and more corporate and expensive, whereas small firms (like yours truly) are lean, nimble and flexible.
With a smaller firm you’ll also get to know the whole team, and know who you’re talking to.
It is true that larger firms could have more specialist expertise, but this needn’t hold you back from choosing a smaller firm. We are indeed a small firm, but we work very closely with specialists, including independent financial advisors, HR consultants, Xero App advisors, and specialist tax teams.
3. Who will you be working with?
Who’s listed in the Meet the Team section? Is anyone listed in the Meet the Team section (if not, why not?) What do they say about themselves? You’ll know whether you’d like to work with them or not, based on how they come across to you, and what’s important to you.
Do they sound human and someone you could talk to and share your business ideas and issues with? We get loads of lovely comments about how “real” we come across on social media, which inspires potential clients to get in touch.
4. Do they specialise in your business industry?
You can tell this from the Xero Partner Directory too, as it lists the business industries the accountant specialises in. We call these niches.
There are huge benefits to working with an expert in your industry. They will understand your issues and pain points, and will no doubt have solved them for other clients.
They should also be able to recommend the right connected Xero Apps for your particular needs.
5. How do you know they are any good with Xero?
This is a big question, and the most important one! We’ve been Xero partners since 2012, but as it becomes more popular it’s difficult to evaluate whether the Xero accountant you choose is an expert or not.
Key questions to ask, to see if they’re any good! (you’ll find all the info in their listing on the partner directory)
1. How long have they been a Xero partner for?
This is a good guide, as the longer they’ve been a partner, the more experience they should have.
2. How many Xerocons have they been to?
This shows a clear commitment to Xero and to continual professional development, as this is Xero’s annual global conference.
3. Are they Xero Champions?
There are many ways to achieve Xero Champion status, regardless of how big a firm they are. It shows a commitment to training, using Xero for their own practice (yes we do!), and continuing to add more clients.
4. How many Xero certifications do they have?
This is listed under the Meet the Team section. Compare this with the number of advisors listed. A higher number of certifications than advisors shows they are committed to learning, as each advisor has more than one certification.
5. What certifications do they have?
This again proves their commitment, but more importantly their expertise in Xero.
Available certifications, which must be kept up to date through the year are:
Making Tax Digital Ready – this is essential now that MTD is live, and shows the Xero accountant has training and expertise to help your MTD commitments.
Xero Advisor – this is a must, and shows a strong understanding and practical knowledge of Xero.
Xero Payroll – crucial if they are running your payroll through Xero.
Xero Migration – another must if you’re expecting your Xero accountant to move you from your current systems across to Xero.
6. What bank experience do they have?
Check how many bank feeds they have connected. A good range will include HSBC, Barclays, Santander, Natwest. RBS, Paypal, Metro Bank. Having only 1 or 2 connected shows they’re not up to speed with the benefits of direct bank feeds.
7. Do they have the right experience for your industry?
Xero provides advisory training for industries including professional services, retail and trade and construction. Have a look and see if what you need is listed.
Their partner directory listing will also show all the industries they look after. This information comes straight from the Xero organisations they look after.
8. What App experience do they have?
Xero has over 1,000 apps in it’s App Marketplace, which all integrate into Xero. This means you can manage pretty much any business, and any part of your business with Xero and its apps. So how many does your preferred Xero accountant have?
It’s not possible to know all the apps, but we think anything below 5 on the directory listing shows a lack of commitment to automating and streamlining your business. We work with over 15 with clients, and have another 20 or so that we use internally, to make ourselves all the more efficient!
9. Do they have any Xero Awards?
Not essential in choosing a Xero accountant, but shows that they have been recognised by Xero for what they’ve achieved. We’re mega proud of Sharon’s award in 2016 of Xero UK’s MVP!
I hope you’ve found this useful, and it helps to you to find the right Xero accountant for you! While you’re here, feel free to look at our Xero Partner Directory entry.
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