The 5 Red Flags That Mean You Need a New Accountant

Change can be a scary thing for any business.

From the products you sell and the markets you target – to the hard-earned network of trusted suppliers and consultants you use every day.

But when something’s not working, you can’t be afraid of change. And that’s especially true when it comes to the experts your business relies on.

Your business accountant is one of the most important members of your extended team. So if you’re not happy with the way they’re working with you – why would you let your business suffer?

Here are 5 of the biggest reasons why businesses like yours switch accountants – the 5 major warning signs that it might be time for a change:

1.  They’re impossible to get hold of

The best accountants are more than just an annual number-cruncher. They should be a core part of your everyday business – ready and available to pitch in with the ongoing advice and emergency fixes you need to keep your company ticking along smoothly.

You shouldn’t be waiting two weeks for a reply to an email. You shouldn’t be fighting to get them to return your calls. And you shouldn’t be brushed off onto their PA every time you have a burning question about your business.

So if you feel like you’re constantly struggling to get a response from your accountant, it’s not you – it’s them.

And it might be time to start looking for someone who’s willing to give you the attention you deserve.

2.  They charge by the second

At some point, we’ve all had an invoice that took us by surprise. Projects can grow, and the hours can quickly rack up.

But some accountants can take this to the extreme – charging your business for every phone call and every piece of advice that they call a ‘consultation’.

And that’s one of the biggest red flags of all:

It means your accountant values their time more than they value you as a client.

At Spotlight Accounting, we don’t tweak our invoices with every conversation. Our fees are based on a fixed monthly rate that’s agreed with you in advance – which means you’ll never end up with a nasty surprise in your inbox.

3.  They’re speaking another language

If you’re using an external accountant, it’s probably because they’re an expert in places where you’re not.

You’re relying on them to help you navigate and understand the tricky world of legislation and finance. And that means you’re relying on them to help you make sense of it all – with simple explanations and the same everyday language that everyone uses.

But sadly, there are lots of accountants who don’t seem to realise this (or they just can’t put themselves in your shoes!).

So if you’re finding yourself confused with all the legalese and financial terms your accountant is throwing at you, that can only mean one thing:

Your accountant isn’t considering your experience and knowledge – and they’re not making an effort to help you understand your own business.

“I often find when you work with accountants or technical people, they talk at you, in their own language and seem shocked when you don’t understand! Carrie explains things in plain English making it easy to understand what needs to be done and why.”

  • Kate Walker – Diabetes Safety Organisation Limited

4.  They’re using out-dated accounting software

We’ve come a long way since the days of clunky spreadsheets and paper-based ledgers.

Today’s accounting is all about access and automation. It’s about the collaboration between a business owner and their accountant – giving you the crucial information you need in a format that’s easy to digest.

That means you need an accountant with software that lets them:

  • Instantly share their work with your teams and stakeholders
  • Pull out simple and powerful reports using specific filters for different data
  • Cut through the time-consuming tasks using automated features
  • And create a direct digital link with your sales, inventory, and cash flow apps.

And if you’re using an accountant who’s not able or willing to bring their systems up to modern standards, it’s probably time to find someone who will.

Here at Spotlight Accounting, we work exclusively with Xero – and it’s something we recommend to all of our clients.

It’s an affordable basic package that can be freely upgraded and added to – so you can build the exact stack of apps and add-ons that your business needs, and keep on adjusting it as your business scales and grows.

5.  They’re not interested in your business

This is a big one – and it might be more important than any of the other red flags we’ve discussed before.

When you hired your first accountant, you were probably just looking for someone to help you make the numbers work (and to help you stay compliant!).

But a good accountant should be so much more than that.

You need an accountant who looks past your legal obligations and your compliance targets – someone who’s motivated to understand how your business works, and how you can improve it.

So what should an accountant be looking for besides the basics? The best accountants out there will help you by:

  • Understanding your personal goals – and how the business can help deliver them
  • Creating a business plan – to establish where your business will be in 3, 5, or 10 years
  • Working with you to create a financial roadmap to help you hit those short and long-term goals
  • Helping you to prepare management accounts to keep you on track
  • Working with you to identify the key financial metrics you need to run your business
  • Teaching you the most tax-efficient ways of calculating and paying what you owe
  • And spotting potential problems with your forecasts at an early stage.

And when you find one that does?

You’ll have an extra member of your team that’s proactive, motivated, and always looking out for the best interests of your business.

“Carrie was invaluable in the process of starting up my business. I will always recommend Carrie to anybody needing assistance with their accounts, and her knowledge and expertise in making a business thrive really are second to none.”

  • Ellie Parkes – Owner

Looking for an accountant that gets what you do?

We’ve been helping businesses of all sizes to take control of their accounts and make the positive changes they need to see their companies grow and scale successfully.

So if you’re looking for a change, give us a call or send us a message – we’ll be more than happy to dive into learning about your business.