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Choosing an accountant is an important decision; you need to find somebody with the right expertise and trust to discuss your financial circumstances. Let's take a look at how to find the right local accountant for you, and how to compare costs - the UK average hourly cost of an accountant is £35-£150 per hour.

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Quick Ways to Find a Local Accountant

There are a few ways to quickly source the best support for your requirements if you need to find a local accountant.

  1. Run a search on www.accountantcosts.co.uk to find a shortlist of local accountants.
  2. Ask for referrals or recommendations from local businesses or any networks you may be a member of.
  3. Check out the accreditation sites to verify that your shortlisted accountants are suitably qualified.
  4. Have a look at their websites or call to request a breakdown of the services required.
  5. Ask what types of client, business, or sector they specialise in.

Do I Need an Accountant?

Without professional financial support, it can be easy to make a bad decision or to choose a financial product that will cost you significantly more than other options.

Accountants are also invaluable in ensuring that you are compliant with rules around declarations, taxes and filings.

One of the main concerns when seeking professional advice is around the costs. Accountants can cost as little as £35 per hour for simple, straightforward tasks. However, for tailored information and more sophisticated services, this can cost upwards of £150 per hour.

It is worth considering what support you need from your accountant and using this as the starting point for your search. If you need an accountant to assist with your property investment, to advise on company finances, or to support you with retirement planning these might be best provided by specialists in each respective field.

For most small businesses, an accountant is essential for business growth, accurate record-keeping and making sound decisions.

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When do People Decide they need a Local Accountant?

Accountants cover a broad range of services and can include multiple professionals offering advisory and practical assistance in all manner of financial matters.

If you are considering hiring an accountant for a business, choosing a local practice is ideal. This means that your accountant can meet with you in person, gain a firm understanding of your business and your operations, and provide tailored advice.

Some of the most common reasons why businesses hire a local accountant include:

  • New start-up businesses that need help incorporating their company, understanding their obligations or registering with authorities such as HMRC.
  • They need to understand the best legal structure for their business - whether just starting or when deciding to restructure.
  • There is a tax query or issue that they need support with. Using an accountant for assistance with managing your taxes can avoid such problems arising!
  • Business is growing rapidly and has grown outside of the skill set of in-house members of staff to manage.
  • Lending is required, and the business owners don't know what type of credit to choose, or which options are most cost-effective.
  • The business is being sold, or another acquisition is being made.

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How to Choose Between Local Accountants

If there are lots of local accountants in your area, you might choose to interview them over the phone or in person. Reputable accountants will always be happy to answer your questions or make a referral to another service if they don't feel best placed to help you.

Write down a list of questions to ask in advance, and make sure you cover all the points that are important to you in your decision:

  • How often are they available to talk, and would they be able to help urgently if any business-critical decisions crop up?
  • How much experience do they have in your industry?
  • Do they support similar clients in the local area?
  • Are there any referrals or client reviews available?
  • Who would carry out the work on the account - are tasks deferred to junior members of staff?
  • What does the fee structure look like?

Local Accountant Speciality Skills

If you need general accountancy advice or support, most accountants will be able to help you. However, if you have complex matters or a niche industry and would like to work with a local accountant with experience in this area, you might feel more comfortable finding a professional who understands your specific circumstances.

This is something you can discuss before hiring an accountant - it is essential that your advisor understands your requirements, and can offer the advice and support you need.

It is also wise to verify any accreditations that an accountant uses. Respected accountants will be more than happy to confirm which professional bodies they are registered with!

Can I Find a Local Accountant on Google?

You can - but we would not recommend it! There are multiple disciplines within the field of accountancy, and it is always preferable to put a little time and research into finding a finance professional to work with.

Bear in mind that your accountant will be privy to private financial information and that you will trust their expertise to make important decisions about your future.

When hiring a professional, it is always a little risky to rely on Internet ads rather than finding accredited firms who can support you.

How Much Will a Local Accountant Cost?

The cost of your accountant will depend on multiple factors, such as:

  • What you need their help with?
  • How often you will work together?
  • Whether you are located nearby, or whether you will require them to travel to visit you?
  • How complicated your financial matters are?
  • Whether you need them for personal or commercial assistance?

The UK average hourly cost of an accountant ranges from £35 to £150 per hour and above, which represents how broad the spectrum of charges will be.

A good accountant will always provide you with a fee schedule before beginning any work. This will set out their charges, and break down what is - and is not - included within those costs.

If you are working on an ongoing basis with your accountant, you should have a Service Level Agreement drawn up and signed by both parties to formalise your professional relationship and what services they are committing to providing you with.

Local Accountants vs Virtual Accountants

Traditionally, accountants are based in high-street locations in towns and cities and work with local clients. However, it is becoming more common to use a virtual or freelance accountant who provides their services remotely.

Which option works best for you depend on your circumstances and how you feel comfortable working.

Cloud-based technology does make it easier to share data and records virtually, and a freelance accountant can usually use screen sharing or online systems to work with you in real-time on a project.

However, if you would like to meet with your accountant face-to-face, it may be preferable to choose a local accountant. This means that your accountant:

  • Can attend meetings with you as your financial advisor.
  • Can visit your business premises or home to have discussions.
  • Can talk you through advice face-to-face.
  • Can explain documents or paperwork to you in person.
  • Can carry out document reviews or stock checks by visiting you rather than outsourcing to a local provider.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Local Accountant just for my Year-End?

You certainly can! There is no requirement to use an accountant, and you might hire a financial professional solely at year-end for help with preparing company accounts or filing your tax return.

These services are usually available at a fixed rate, and your accountant is often able to remind you when your regular tasks become due - this is a helpful way to ensure you don't forget about anything important!

However, filing accounts and returns are just some of the services available. So it is worth considering what other value you might benefit from, by working more regularly with your accountant.

Does my Local Accountant Need to Use the same Bookkeeping Software as me?

Not necessarily. If you plan to work regularly with your accountant, for example commissioning them to run regular payroll or to carry out your bookkeeping, it is always wise to ask the question about how your systems will work.

Most modern accountancy systems are cloud-based, and usually, accountants can work with your software or with compatible software to provide seamless services.

It can also save you money by using your accountant to help with functions such as payroll or VAT filing. Should you use non-compatible software, or work with spreadsheets rather than accounting packages, your accountant will usually provide this as part of their services rather than your needing to invest in new software systems.

How Easy is it to Switch Accountants?

There are lots of reasons you might consider switching your accountant:

  • You have found someone closer to you.
  • You have been unhappy with some aspect of the service.
  • You have been recommended to work with another accountant.
  • You have discovered cheaper comparable services elsewhere.
  • Your accountancy needs have changed.

Switching accountants is very simple; if you are regularly dealing with an accountant through a Service Level Agreement, you may need to give them notice.

However, this tends to be relatively short - usually 1-3 months - and a professional accountant will not wish to retain a client who would like to move their services elsewhere.

Your new accountant will usually handle the formalities for you and will arrange for the transfer of records and data to enable them to take over managing your finances for you smoothly.

How Do I Know if I am Getting Good Value from my Accountant?

If you're thinking about finding a more local accountant or don't feel confident that you are receiving the best service from your existing accountant, it is right to think about moving.

Your accountant is pivotal in the financial decisions you make, and you need to ensure you are working with a professional who you trust.

There are lots of ways to compare accountants, one of the most common being rates of pay. While you can expect to pay higher prices for more qualified or experienced professionals, your budget remains a primary factor.

If you are concerned about your accountancy costs or think you can get a better deal elsewhere, then ask for a breakdown of the services included and if there are any ways you can streamline your records to reduce the administrative time that work takes.

There are other ways to ensure you get the best value from your accountant:

  • Be responsive and transparent with your communications so that they can deal with your affairs quickly.
  • Ask for help and advice as often as you need to - the savings you achieve in making good decisions will likely pay for the cost of the advice.
  • Read your SLA and understand what services are included in your accountancy provision - and be sure to make the best use of all of the services included!
  • Ask for breakdowns on billing so that you feel comfortable that you know what you are paying for.
  • Reduce the admin work your accountant needs to do by keeping your records and books up to date.

What are the Signs of a Good Local Accountant?

Some of the signs that the accountant you are working with or considering, could provide tangible benefits include:

  • Personal recommendations and testimonials from local businesses.
  • Responsive communications and openness to share rates, services and provide all the information you need to decide if they are the right professionals for you.
  • Being proactive - great accountants don't wait for their clients to bring them a problem or a query - they look ahead for potential risks and opportunities to help their clients consider all the angles.
  • They are happy to take the time to explain things thoroughly.
  • Looking at the bigger picture, and not just the here and now. Good accountants help you to budget and plan for the future, to assist you in ongoing prosperity rather than just for the short-term.
  • They ask you questions - what you wish to achieve, what ideas you have, what strategies you are working on. Understanding a client is key to providing sound financial advice.

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