Main article content

Do You Trust Your Accountant?

Date: Apr 01, 2022

Do You Trust Your Accountant?

I was out walking the dog a while ago and I ended up walking behind a lady chatting on the phone. Without meaning to pry I could hear every word of her side of the conversation. One sentence really got me thinking.

She said to the person on the other end of the phone “It’s our business, shouldn’t we be able to claim for what ever we want? I don’t understand why they’re telling us we can’t claim for …….” (I won’t disclose the exact expenses that she was discussing!)

To me the first thing that popped in my head was that there were two key things missing: Trust and Communication

These two elements, in my personal opinion, are the most important aspect of ANY business relationship but even more importantly with your Accountant.

As a business owner you can’t be an expert in everything, and you must trust those around you, but you can only do that if trust is built and maintained through good communication. 
Before a business or business owner becomes a customer of Troy Accounting, we are open with what both of our responsibilities are and what we both need to do and by when. We will also tell them what they should be doing finance wise as most businesses get by on doing the bare minimum which is not advantageous to them or their business because they have no idea where the business and its finances are really at. The risk of running a business on the bare minimum of finance work is that every decision you make is adding risk into the business because you don’t have the full facts.

Having an Accountant does not pass on your responsibilities as a business owner to someone else. In fact, if we think the business owner believes that is going to happen then they don’t get offered to become a customer of our business.

Strong words “they don’t get offered to become a customer of our business”. Why not? Because we know the people we work best with, and those customers want to take on their responsibilities and own them.  They know if they do then their business and the future of their business changes to be in a much better place. We’re one team. It is not and “Us vs Them” situation.

You must be able to have rapport with your Accountant, or in fact in any business relationship, so that you can have honest and sometimes difficult conversations. It isn’t all about getting along, it is also about doing what is best.

This rapport and trust only strengthen overtime as you work together. Hopefully you’ve checked out the qualifications of your accountant and are happy that they actually do have the technical expertise. Surprisingly, “accountant” and “bookkeeper” are not protected words, and anyone can in fact set themselves up in business and call themselves this, and scarily this does happen! It is your responsibility as a business owner to make sure they are qualified for what your business needs them to do and what you are engaging them for.

Your Accountant should be someone you can ask any business-related question to without feeling you are being judged or worrying you would look like a fool because aren’t you expected to know this? You don’t know what you don’t know so the only way to find out is to ask. If your Accountant can’t answer the question immediately or needs to do some research that doesn’t mean you can’t trust them. It means that they’re being diligent and want to make sure that they get the facts straight before providing an answer. 

If you have the right relationship with your Accountant, then you are no longer afraid to check before buying something because you’re not sure whether it is okay or not as a business expense. It becomes a simple conversation. If you have the facts to hand then you can decide what you want to do.

I’m not suggesting that you need to ask permission to spend the money your business makes but what I am saying is that if you as a business owner have taken on your responsibilities and understand your finances then it is probably something that you know may not be okay and you want to check. It opens up your inquisitive side rather than feeling like you’re being watched or managed by your accountant.

Your accountant should be reviewing your business when you first join them so that they can:

  • Ensure that your business is being run as you have explained it and on which they have likely based the pricing of their services on
  • Ensure that the data they are using is accurate (remember not everyone that uses the word accountant or bookkeeper necessarily has the right qualifications for your business) 
  •  Ensure that you understand how they work and how they need you to work i.e. what each of your responsibilities are
  • Review how you have been spending the money so far to see if there are any areas that need to be reviewed. Either because it’s a grey area and will need to be discussed but also to ensure you are claiming for everything you’re allowed to
  • If you’re a new business they should be going through how you need to record your income and expenses, what expenses you can claim for and how you pay yourself, at the very minimum

All of this builds trust, rapport and open, honest communication from the very beginning of the relationship.

This in my personal opinion is the best way to have a successful, happy and collaborative relationship with your Accountant. If it isn’t like this or if any of the above have got you thinking whether your current Accountant or Bookkeeper are the right fit for your business, then perhaps it’s time to take a look around and find one that fits better.