Beyond being qualified, what actually makes a good local accountant? Sean O’Flaherty, Director at Rosscot, explains.

A current approach and the correct application of new technology are paramount in running a successful business today. However, this also needs to be combined with traditional values that champion accessibility and trust.

Accountants are no longer considered simply to be number crunchers; they are an integral part of a company’s management team, providing in-depth financial analysis to explain and improve a company’s profits. Often people feel that ‘experienced’ is synonymous with ‘good’. However, experience is not necessarily positive if it entails many years of applying the same tired principals with every client. What’s valuable is an accountant who can adapt their approach to each client and the changing financial landscape. The ability to innovate from convention is essential for the effective development of your company.

Refining and implementing the latest technology and software can save you time and money. A good local accountancy firm will invest in the latest and best software, such as Xero, QuickBooks and Sage. Keeping updated on the latest developments and improvements to software and the gumption to apply it, is what you want from a good accountant.

A ‘yes’ person is not who you need. You need someone who cares about your company’s ventures and is prepared to take the extra initiative to achieve success and say ‘no’ when necessary. The job requires them to tell you the truth, regardless of what you want to hear. They digest the information provided and assist with the production of a suitable, sustainable business plan. It’s not a matter of simply maintaining the business; your accountant must also add value. This usually involves innovative yet simple ways to save your company money or to make money. Independent local firms are not restricted by the mechanics of global companies and so they can find the best plan for you, even if it is not a standard solution.

You need mutual understanding for your accountant to become a trusted confidant of your business. One of the most important attributes is their trustworthiness. With large global firms, smaller clients may feel that they can get lost amongst the masses. Local accountancy firms should prioritise every client and understand the need to communicate effectively.

As financial experts, accountants should also understand the necessity to be transparent with pricing. They should explain all charges from the offset and aim to offer a payment plan that works for you, such as fixed fees or monthly instalments. Fair payment structures are crucial to a successful relationship and they should be proactive in helping you. They should take the initiative, offer advice and ask the necessary questions to understand your needs. Accountants should be your “go to” trusted advisor enabling your business to thrive.

Ensure you have a direct line of contact with your accountant. They will inform you of upcoming deadlines and be proactive on your behalf. At Rosscot the directors make themselves available as and when clients need them and are there to provide support in both the good times and the bad.

The stereotype of an accountant may not be changing. However, many would not fulfil the characterisation – except perhaps possessing a love of numbers. They are passionate about finding the best way to make your company profitable and therefore your choice of accountant from inception is vital.