Running a successful business is about more than just the work that you do or the products that you offer – it is about the people you employ or work with to complement those skills. One of the most important people that you work with is a chartered accountant – but what does this person do and how do you choose one?
Being a chartered accountant
A chartered account is someone who has a qualification that allows them to use the letters ACA or FCA after their name – an Associate or Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. To gain this qualification, the person goes through a three year training program led by an already qualified account and then must pass annual exams, meaning that someone who has the qualification is at the top of their profession.
Anyone can call themselves an accountant and may be able to do some of the basics of the job. However only someone who has these qualifications and has completed the exams can call themselves a chartered accountant.
What a chartered accountant does?
While an accountant can help with issues such as bookkeeping and tax returns, a chartered accountant can offer advice on a wide range of business related topics and is more of a business advisor than just someone keeping accounts.
Jobs that a chartered account can assist with include:
- Evaluating the finances of a business
- Help to create a business plan
- Create bookkeeping and management information systems including choosing software
- Assisting with the legal structure of the business
- Assisting with ways to grow the business
Choosing the right chartered accountant
This means that choosing the right chartered accountant is about more than finding someone who can competently do some accountancy tasks – you want someone who can work well with you and your team to help manage and grow the business.
Working with locally based companies can be an advantage because you can work with them on a face to face basis and hold meetings. So you may want to choose a Chartered Accountants in London but, with software such as Skype, it is also possible to have meetings via video as well as over the phone, so this isn’t a major issue.
When talking to the potential candidate, discuss their experience in your industry. What kind of businesses have they worked with? What kind of solutions did they create for these businesses and how did this work out?
While the chartered accountant themselves will have the relevant qualifications to claim the title, it also means that they will have other staff who aren’t chartered. So, ask about the team you might be working with, what their background and experience is as well as their qualifications. A good variety of experience and skills can work well as different viewpoints can create innovative solutions.
Being best friends with your accountant isn’t necessary but it does help if you get along well with the person or people you will be working closely with. Feeling that you are all working together and have the same ideas and aims is a good basis for the building of a successful professional relationship.
For businesses of all sizes, one of the biggest issues that they face is managing their accounts. Keeping track of money going in and out is crucial to the success of the business while keeping detailed records for the tax man is also important. There are many different ways to find an accountant but working with one in your local area can have added advantages.
So let’s say you are a business in London, maybe the east of the city and are considering working with East London accountants – but how to do you pick one? For starters, you can do a little research on the company in question through their website. Very few professional companies don’t have a web presence of some form and often these websites provide a wealth of information about services.
The website will give you an idea about the kinds of businesses that the company have worked with. Some accountants are generalists and work with any industry but other specialise in certain types of business to gain a fuller understanding of their needs and requirements. This can be an advantage when choosing an account that specialises in your sector.
Another big benefit of going with that local East London accountants firm is that you can hold face to face meetings with them. Many of us use the internet to make Skype calls or send instant messages as well as smartphones for texts and phone calls when on the move. But with something as important as your accounts, then it doesn’t hurt to sit down and discuss everything with your accountant.
So, continuing with our theme of an East London accountants, let’s take a look at one as an example. Fixed Price are East London Accountants who offer a wide range of services for their customers. These include:
- Tax returns both corporate and personal
- Payroll issues
- Completing statutory accounts
- Bookkeeping services
- PAYE registration
- Quarterly and annual management
These are all the basic services that most businesses require to run the financial side of their operations. In addition, the company also offers to deal with HMRC and Companies House on behalf of the company and can also offer personal -self-assessment tax returns for self-employed people who don’t work as part of a company.
In addition to the big stuff, Fixed Price also offer a number of helpful services that can ensure the financial success of the business. This includes budgeting and planning as well as account management and even dividend administration.
In terms of who they work with, the company list several sectors that they have experience working with. These includes food related businesses such as restaurants, pubs and takeaways as well as franchises of various kinds. They work with retailers of fashion as well as food and with IT contracting companies and sole traders. They have also worked with medical businesses such as GP practices and locums responsible for their own bookkeeping.
This is an example of a local accountants who can deal with a good spread of business types and offer comprehensive services that not only fulfill statutory requirements but assist the business in its growth and financial planning.Read More
Both companies and individuals can find themselves facing insolvency, which is also known as bankruptcy. For a company, it can be called corporate insolvency and there are some differences between what happens as a company and as an individual. When your business may be facing insolvency, then licensed insolvency practitioners are the people to talk to and help you understand what your options are going forward.
What is insolvency?
Insolvency is termed as the situation where a company can no longer pay its debts – often referred to as ‘going bust’. There are two ways that a company can be determined as insolvent known as the cash flow test and the balance sheet test. In the first, if the company is unable to pay debts when they are due, it is considered insolvent. Under the second, if the value of the assets is less than the liabilities then the company is insolvent, taking into account uncertain circumstances and possible future liabilities.
To be deemed as unable to pay debts, a company may either have a court order or other judgement that has not been settled by the business. Or there is a debtor who is owned more than £750 by the company who has served a formal demand for unpaid monies and the debt hasn’t been paid for three weeks.
The insolvency procedure
A company can be placed into the insolvency procedure by the directors, the shareholders or by creditors as well as by the court. There are four main procedures that can be used to either wind down and distribute assets of the company to save it:
- A company voluntary agreement
- Going into administration
- Administrative receivership
- Liquidation – where the company is closed down
What an Insolvency Practitioner does
A company voluntary agreement or CVA is where you and your creditors agree to reduce or reschedule debt for a commitment for the company to restructure the business or to undertake a new business development strategy. This process involves the services of an Insolvency Practitioner or IP.
Administration is where the Insolvency practitioner is known as an Administrator and is appointed by creditors. Their role is to replace one or all of the company directors to rescue the company in the interests of creditors. Their aim is to achieve better results for the company and therefore its creditors while using good business judgement. Administrative receivership isn’t used much since changes in 2003 that meant it was mostly superseded by the use of an administrator.
Choosing an IP
If you are in a position to choose an Insolvency Practitioner for your business or for a debtor, then often working with someone in the local area can be beneficial. Therefore, if the business is based in East London, then an East London Insolvency Practitioner could be ideal. You can conduct face to face meetings with the IP and discuss the options or changes needed to get the business back on track. Using a local service means they may also have a unique viewpoint to local markets that can help restore the business to solvency.Read More
Whether you own a business or are a self-employed sole trader, managing your accounts is key to success. In the short term, you will need to plan for tax payments and check the cash flow of the business. In the longer term, you may want to invest in the business, add employees or new products and be certain you have the right financial basis for this. The contractor accountant is the person that can help you organise all of these areas.
Starting a business
At the start of the process, when a business is being formed, contractor accountants like Taxup can assist with the process. Some offer a service that includes registering the business with Companies House in the case of a limited business as well as helping to register you as self-employed for tax purposes. Another important job is finding the right business bank account as this is a requirement of being self-employed.
From the outset, it is a good idea to start an accounting system and a contractor accountant can assist with this. There are various online software options and some companies even have their own bespoke systems you can use. Whatever the option, you need to start keeping accounts from the beginning to avoid playing catch-up later.
Once the business is established, then there are ongoing tasks that can be completed at different stages of the year to comply with regulations and ensure the sound running of the business. A monthly payroll is one example, even if this is just for yourself. You may also need to send payroll details to HMRC if you have staff.
Annual jobs such as dealing with any statutory mail from Companies House and HMRC is also important and needs to be done within specified timescales. Quarterly reports are sometimes required and everyone has to complete an annual report to work out how much they need to pay in taxes. Company’s accounts need to be submitted and tax payments made.
A contractor account will also be around to help you with questions during the course of the year. You may want to sit down with them to see if the company’s financial position is healthy enough to take on extra staff or add a new product or service that requires initial investment.
Also, contractor accountants can help with matters including pension advice for you and your staff as well as bookkeeping tasks and an assessment of how the business is progressing financially. They can even provide accountancy references for mortgages and letting agencies.
Choosing an accountant
Working with the right person can be crucial to the ongoing success of your business. Be sure that the person is a genuine contractor specialists, used to working with small businesses or sole traders as these types of business have different requirements to large, national companies.
Also, look at their costs and see what you get for this. Cheapest isn’t always best so look for the experience of the accountant and the services they offer alongside the cost to help you make a good choice for you and your business.Read More