How to Find a Cheap Accountant

The other day I was attending a personal appointment and overheard someone mention they were going to find a new accountant. I smiled to myself and was about to chime in and sell my services. However, before I knew it they were discussing why they were changing. “They cost too much” black and white it was there for me and everyone else to hear. That was it, the accountant had sent one too many invoices demanding payment and that was just “too high.” I sulked back into my chair and thought to myself, how many clients have I got that were saying the exact same thing?

In these tightened economic times we are all forced to review our costs and question is there any fat in the expense sheet that I can trim or substitute. So often the accountant can be replaced with someone promising to do the work for less. However, often after just a couple of years the new accountant is charging just as much as the old accountant. Why is that? I can’t tell you the answer as circumstances differ. However, I’m willing to bet a discussion with your current accountant will reveal some ways to reduce your costs.

As accountants, we often do work for less than cost for the first year or two because we can see your prior year accounts and know the job is simple enough. However, after the first year and having been presented with shoe boxes full of fuel dockets and envelopes full of bank statements, we know that it is going to take a day just to establish if we have all the information to complete your accounting work. In addition, another day for putting some order to the chaos. Following this, we need to put that information into our computer system. Only then can we be an accountant and review the expenses and ensure everything is up to scratch with current tax law.

However, being provided with too little information is just as time consuming. For example, you are the perfect client and have listed all your expenses, by expense type. Great, we now have a list of stationary expenses with meaningless numbers except the $500 you spent just before Christmas. We don’t perform audit, however, we do have a duty of care and need to ensure it was a legitimate business expense. So we ask you what it was for, only to find out 2 weeks later that it was a deposit on the new computer systems you purchased for the office on GE Money. This means, we are left asking questions that time and time again only raise more questions.

Since, we all want the same thing, less time spent on your compliance work I would like to encourage anyone who thinks they need a cheaper accountant to stop now for 5 minutes and book an appointment with your current accountant. To save us second guessing what the appointment is for and not being prepared, tell the receptionist to let your accountant know you are coming to find out what you can do to lower your accounting costs. Don’t put this off until next week, the time is now. Every day you wait means more time will be spent on this years work.