Should I get an accountant near me or a remote accountant? This is what many small businesses are asking themselves lately. With life handing the whole world lemons (a.k.a COVID19), many industries have moved online just to be able to make it through various waves and lockdowns. While lockdowns are waning, industries seem to be sticking to the online space for convenience. But what would be best for you?
In this post we will be looking at the pro’s and cons of having an accountant near you and having a remote accountant so that you can make an informed decision for yourself and your business.
CIGMA has been operating in Wimbledon and surrounding areas, London for the last 6 years. However, when COVID hit, we, like most other businesses, branched out into online territory in order to meet our client’s needs. We currently serve as in-person accountants and remote accountants in the wider United Kingdom area. That’s why we have hands-on experience in the pro’s and con’s of both options.
Accountant near Me
When we talk about “Accountants Near Me” we refer to an accountant to whom you can conveniently and efficiently reach for in-person meetings and discussions regarding your tax, self-assessments and other accounting related affairs. We’ll be looking at all the pros and cons of having an accountant within driving distance from your business.
Advantages of Accountant Near You
There are two main advantages to having an accountant close to you. Let’s look at them below:
Having an accountant that you can meet with face-to-face can be easy, efficient and adds a personal touch to the service. A company where you get to shake the hand of the person handling your personal or small business accounting can give you a sense of comfort and relief. That’s why many people opt for having an accountant near them that they can schedule in-person meetings with.
Region-specific knowledge on taxes and business
The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each country in the United Kingdom has varying income tax rates to suit the needs of their population. Therefore, having an accountant in your region/country may benefit you as they will know all the ins and outs of the taxation system within your specific region.
Disadvantages of Accountant Near You
The disadvantages of having an accountant in your region is dependent on where you are based, and which accountants are available in your area. However, some potential disadvantages of looking for an accountant near you are discussed below:
It is no secret that an accountant can save you A LOT of money if they are doing their job right. An accountant that has expertise within a specific industry will have the expertise and experience to know what to look out for in order to save you money and make informed recommendations.
However if you are in an area that does not have accountants that have expertise in your industry? That means you may be losing money when you don’t have to be. Sometimes restricting your accountant needs to a specific location may be a great disadvantage to you and your company.
Bad reviews / Turnaround times
Another pitfall to only utilising local accountants is that they might just not be the best accountants. While they are close to you, are they actually doing a good job? Perhaps your area only has accountants or accountancy firms with bad reviews, extended turnaround times and overall just lack the service delivery that you need.
Accountants that work with individuals and businesses remotely can work at the same, if not higher efficiency than accountants in your area. Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a remote accountant for your business or personal taxes.
Advantages of Remote Accountant
There are many advantages to looking for a remote accountant. Some of these advantages are discussed below:
Find the right fit
Finding an accountant is almost like looking for a business partner. These are people that you will trust with your financial wellbeing. That’s why it’s so important to find the right fit. Expanding your search for an accountant means you have a better chance of finding someone that just feels right for yourself and/or your business.
Due to the nature of remote accounting firms in the United Kingdom, most accountants offer remote, secure portals to upload business documents. These portals do not rely on human working hours,which means you can upload your documents whenever it suits you. No hand delivering vital documents in person!
With remote accountants there’s no need for lengthy travel trips, copious amounts of small-talk or spending time outside of your home or office. It is efficient and convenient to have online meetings and interactions in the comfort of your own environment.
Accountants in your area just are not cutting it (the prices that is). Well, hiring a remote accountant may be your saving grace. When looking outside of your direct area, you can throw a wider net for more affordable services. Furthermore, you can get a company that offers a turnaround service (accounting package deals), with discounts available for handling all tax and registration affairs on your behalf. No need for 3 different service providers if you can have one to do it all!
Nationwide knowledge on taxes in different regions
If you are running a company that has offices in multiple countries of the United Kingdom, having a remote accountant may be the best thing for your company. Having an accountant that is knowledgeable on the tax rates for each region can help you and your business in following current legislation in your region.
Disadvantages of Remote Accountant
With the world moving online there isn’t much of a disadvantage for hiring a remote accountant to take care of your personal or business tax
Lack of In-person Meetings
In the case that it is a deal-breaker if you cannot meet your accountant in-person on a regular basis, unfortunately the remote option may not be suited for you. As remote accounts can work from anywhere in the United Kingdoms, having regular meetings in person may not be possible.
Cyber Security Concerns
If the company you are working with is not properly secured you may be faced with some cyber security issues. We highly recommend that you inquire regarding threat protection with a remote accounting firm.
How To Choose the Best Accountant for you and your business
As you can see, we are not for or against either options for your accounting needs. It is all about finding what works best for you. However, an accountant is vital to the growth of your business and it’s important that you do not make the decision lightly. We’ve compiled the 6 best tips to help you on your quest to find the best accountant for your business. Check them out here:
Location, location, location…
Does it matter to you whether your accountant is in the same city as you? If so, you have your first clue: You are looking to find someone local which narrows down your search significantly.
However, if you are keen on jumping on the “UK remote accounting services” train, then you have a wide pond to fish from.
Unfortunately, the term “accountant” is not a protected term in the United Kingdom. What does this mean? That means many individuals and businesses may be making use of services from people that they think are qualified with years of training, when they actually are not qualified. That’s why it’s important that you separate those without certification from the certified and reliable accountants.
How to check Certification?
You can request proof of registration with a regulatory body in the United Kingdom. In the UK, there are four main regulatory bodies currently registering businesses:
- The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
- The Institute of Public and Finance Accountancy (CIPFA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
A detailed post will follow to check each qualification.
Reviews and Feedback
Check the reviews and feedback from previous customers on their google business profile, social media platforms and third party sites. Do they not have any of those? That should be the first red flag to look into the company a little more closely to ensure that they are a legitimate service provider.
Experience and Expertise
In order to get the best results, you need to find the best accountant for you. Whether that accountant is based in your area or not. This means looking for an accountant that has a track record of experience and expertise. This can be done by asking questions and requesting reference from current or previous clients personally.
Ask basic accounting questions in the vetting process
Asking basic accounting questions will offer you valuable insight into two aspects of the accountant or company that you are working with: Firstly, it will assess whether they have basic accounting knowledge and secondly , it will assess their customer service. Having someone that can explain complicated procedures and ideas with patience can reveal their character. Having an accountant that is not willing to sit down and comb through the details in a way that you, the business owner or individual can understand to make informed decisions, is a clear sign that you do not want to create a professional relationship with the service provider.
Find someone that’s passionate about what they do
Finding someone that is passionate about what they are doing is always a good sign. Generally speaking, an accountant that is excited about possible savings for your company will do a much better job than someone that is just in it for the paycheck at the end of the month. So how do you determine whether or not they are passionate? It’s quite simple, you ask open-ended questions. Ask them to explain what they do. Someone who is passionate will most likely have a lot to say, be enthusiastic and highlight possible opportunities for growth and savings.
In conclusion, choosing an accountant is a very personal journey. Make sure that you know what you are looking for, and do your research to make a decision!