The first rule of interim really should be that time is money. Successful interims direct the majority of their effort towards focused activity that builds revenue – in other words they spend time on marketing, networking or delivering to clients.
However, unless you actually are an accountant (in which case you don’t need to read this blog!!) you are far better off leaving finance to a professional. Many interims don’t give adequate consideration to the financial practicalities and then spend valuable hours poring over their accounts in a misguided attempt at doing it themselves. Anyone who has had to complete their tax return at the last minute knows this is both a risky and tedious strategy.
The right accountant can save you time and money. Apart from the very practical book-keeping and accounting services they provide, your accountant is a source of expert advice – and can help you navigate the more complex areas of company law, accounting practice and tax planning. Often, they can provide business advice or other information to help keep your business on track as it grows.
This leaves you free to spend your valuable working day actually doing work, instead of worrying about VAT returns, expenses and invoicing. Let’s face it, the quarterly HMRC newsletters that accompany your VAT return hardly make for riveting reading. (Apologies to VAT specialists everywhere who probably do enjoy these missives!)
Your accountant is likely to become your most valuable advisor, so it’s important to develop a good relationship and know that your finances are being handled by someone you trust. Here are my top tips for selecting your bean-counter of choice:
- Qualifications count. Make sure your accountant is fully qualified, for example as a certified or chartered accountant. In most cases, these qualifications will be displayed on any promotional material or their website. If not, make sure you ask for – and get – the accreditation details.
- Sector Experience. Hiring an accountant with relevant experience provides additional benefit to your business. For instance, accountants that work primarily with interims will have in-depth knowledge of the financial challenges associated with this business sector, which can prove useful.
- Compare, compare, compare. Referrals and personal recommendations are a good place to start, but don’t just go with the first accountant you meet. Ask to speak to existing clients before signing up. Try to compare the services of at least three.
Lisa Bondesio is the founder of Chiridion Consulting. She provides common sense to corporate clients in times of transition and specialises in business change, strategy and stakeholder engagement. Some of her best friends are accountants!