Guide on Switching Accountant
Relationship between a contractor and accountant is core to the success and profitability of your limited company because your accountant plays a key role in the functioning of your business or company and in addition to managing the company accounts; they also ensure that your operations are in compliance with tax legislation and also helps you to operate tax as efficiently as possible. If you managed to get a right accountant for your company, it will be a mutual beneficial arrangement for you as well as the accountant because as a limited company you will get to utilize the knowledge and skills of the accountant whereas the accountant will be benefited with your way of working and thus will be able to make tailored recommendations in order to extract the maximum value from the efforts.
However, there are times when you as a small business might feel the need for changing your accountant for more than one reasons such as:
- You are paying far too much: While you are busy working day and night to take your business to new heights, you must make sure to pause and see if your hard earned money is going at the right place i.e. you are getting the service worth the money spent by you. Your accountant should not cost you a fortune and if you think likewise, probably it is the time for you to look around and now that you are looking or thinking on the lines of changing your accountant, you must look for someone who is a better package than the previous one both in terms of knowledge and aptitude.
- Your accountant charges every time you seek advice: In order to run your business in an efficient and proper manner, you need to ensure that your tax returns are filed well within time with right amount of tax and you are also claiming everything you are entitled to. And if you have to pay the accountant every time you consult him, then it’s a hint to start looking for your options.
- You need to book an appointment to visit your accountant: When you are self-employed, you need to take care of numerous things which keep you busy throughout and taking out time from your schedule in order to visit your accountant not only demands effort, but also demands time which you otherwise would be spending doing something productive. Also frequent need of visiting your accountant is not a healthy sign for your business.
- Your accountant baffles you with endless jargon: If you have zero or minimal knowledge of accountancy, then its jargons and terminology will sound no lesser than French to you and if your accountant uses this very fact to his advantage by throwing complex jargon in order to make you even more confuse, then replacing your accountant should become a priority in your t-do list.
- Your accountant demands you fill out an antiquated spreadsheet: Most of the small business owners, freelancers and contractors find filing a self-assessment return an uphill and daunting task and are often found wrestling with the spreadsheet provided by their accountant because it is very important to fill the sheet correctly. One wrong move in the spreadsheet might delete an important formula and thus can affect the whole spreadsheet in a negative manner. Thus you would need an accountant who can help you in filling the self-assessment spreadsheet correctly and in case your accountant is of not of much use, you should and you must replace him at the earliest possible.
Points to consider while switching accountant
If you find yourself pondering over one or more than one point mentioned above, then probably you are thinking to switch your accountant, however before you go ahead and replace him, you must think on the below mentioned points:
- Timing: No matter how important or crucial it is for you to change your accountant, you must always remember that it should not be a rushed process i.e. once you have made up your mind, you also have to think carefully about the most appropriate time for the handover between the previous and new accountant and the timing should be when there is least activity happening in your company and thus if you should not decide to change or switch the accountant during the last leg of the financial year because that’s the time when account section is the busiest.
- Understand your rights and responsibilities: Before you switch the accountant, you must ensure that there are no loose ends i.e. all financial responsibility is discharged because unpaid bills are most popular reason of dispute during switching accountant. Also it is important for you to know and understand your rights and responsibilities and doing so will save yourself from lot of troubles by checking the details of agreement with your current accountant. Before you proceed with the process of switching your accountant, you must be sure that you have kept your side of the agreement and this becomes an important point to consider especially in cases where you are not happy or dissatisfied with the service of your current accountant.
It is also important to understand your rights and the current agreement because the current accountant might refuse to switch in case you have failed to keep your side of the agreement.
How to switch your accountant?
Even though switching accountant is not a tedious or lengthy process, it is advisable to follow mandatory steps in order to have a smooth switching between the current and new accountant, such as:
- Inform your current accountant: It is always good to be on the fair side and inform your accountant well in advance regarding his termination. Doing so will help you both in a way. If you give ample time or time as per the agreement to the accountant to find an alternative job for him, it will help you to end the terms on a good note and thus make the switching process smooth. Also you must allow your old accountant to speak to your new one because it is the former one who needs to handover the paperwork if any. It is always better to call your accountant to your office and tell him about his replacement. However, if you do not wish to have this unpleasant conversation, you can always inform him by writing an email to him, unless a handwritten letter is a mandatory mode of communication. Also, you need to mention any kind of expectation related to work which previous accountant need to deliver before he or she is discharged from duty.
Disengagement letter: In order to have a smooth switching your previous accountant needs to give a disengagement letter, which is considered as a professional document and has details of all the work completed by him, including key details and information. You must need to get the below mentioned information and details before the exit of your previous accountant:
- Full financial statements with detailed profit and loss accounts.
- Bank reconciliation in respect of all accounts.
- Summaries of stock and work in progress.
- A copy of the Corporation Tax computations.
- Analyses of fixed assets, trade debtors, bad debt provisions, other debtors’ prepayments, trade creditors, accruals, other creditors and capital account movements.
- Form CT620 issued by HMRC in respect of the last accounting period.
- Any information which affects the company’s future liability.
- A copy of the most recent CT600 submitted, together with any supplementary pages.
- Confirmation of disengagement sent by the accountant.
- Professional clearance letter: This is the letter which the new accountant needs to write to the previous one informing the later one regarding his selection as new accountant of the firm. In this letter, the new accountant will ask for professional clearance and request any relevant paperwork and also the possible reason why you have not continued with the previous accountant. Professional clearance letter is a formality which needs to be done while switching accountants and it is better to expect an invoice from your old accountant against this service.
- Registration with new accountant: In order to understand your company better, your new accountant will send you certain forms to capture your personal and company information. In addition to this, he is legally binded to conduct anti-money laundering check on you and your limited company and in order to have so, he will ask you to provide your passport or driving license together with a recent utility bill.
- Letter of engagement: The new accountant is required to send you a letter of engagement, which is also a professional document like disengagement letter stating his sets of expectations and requirements. This is an important part of switching process because in its absence, both the parties are not sure of what to expect and what to deliver.
- Assigning authority: In order to authorize your new accountant to deal with HMRC on your behalf, for both personal and company tax affairs, you are required to sign a new 64-8 form. You can also use the HMRC’s online authorization service to assign authority