What Makes A Good Accountant?
It's something that any deserving accountant should be asking themselves from time to time and a good way of considering how your firm matches up to its competition.
When asked about the characteristics of a good accountant, adjectives like logical, rational and savvy with numbers tend to feature heavily. But it takes far more than just patience and good numerical skills to be an exceptional one.
Here we take a look at what we believe are attributes all the best accountants should have, from basic qualifications to stuff that’s a little less obvious.
This is a really obvious one, especially to accountants, but many individuals and businesses have fallen foul of this in the past: all accountants must be fully qualified, fully regulated and have their practice recognised by an official accountancy body.
A good accountant will take the time to sit down and really understand a client’s aspirations and requirements right from the outset. This is because skilled accountants recognise the importance of properly considering what type of economic methods or accounting practices might need to be applied. Offering a bespoke financial advice is a particularly valuable skill set to have.
Clients nowadays are encouraged to look for accountants that understand their sector specifically, or who can at least demonstrate excellent business acumen. This should be shown either through your own firm’s development or your success with existing clients.
An eye for detail
Being able to methodically work through even the most tedious of details is crucial to good accounting practices and maintaining a high level of accuracy. An outstanding accountant will be one that is diligent and focussed, ensuring that the figures in front of them are in order.
Obviously the golden rule in accounting is don’t make a mistake. Clients simply can’t afford any errors (both in time and money), and neither can your reputation.
Keeping up with industry knowledge
By having an in-depth understanding of their client’s industry specifically, accountants can guide them through the often vast array of benefits and drawbacks of the sector they operate in. Additionally, they will have an awareness of any HMRC-lead schemes which could offer financial assistance to different companies. They will be able to apply such reliefs accordingly, ensuring a company is operating in the most tax-efficient manner possible.
A good example of this is R&D Tax Credits. If your client has undergone any innovative research and development work recently, they could be eligible for tax relief to help with the expenditure they’ve incurred. This can literally be worth thousands of pounds and is offered either as a rebate on a company’s Corporation Tax liability or as a single cash payment.
The scope for claiming R&D Tax Credits is purposefully incredibly broad. It’s open to all UK companies in all sectors and of all sizes; the only requirement is that they’ve undergone innovative work that looks to address a particular scientific or technological uncertainty. Even companies that aren’t turning a profit can apply, and the money claimed can be in respect of everything from salaries to materials to prototype testing and much more.
The R&D Tax Credit scheme is split into two sub-types; the SME scheme and the RDEC scheme (which is for larger companies). However, it’s worth nothing that if an SME has already received any state-funded grants, it will need to claim under the RDEC scheme instead.
A benefit rate of 24.7% is currently offered on R&D expenditure for SMEs that are in profit. There is a different rate of 33.35% offered for loss-making ones. The current RDEC rate is 12%, resulting in a net relief after tax of 9.7%.
A good quality accountant should be highly responsive when a client requires their help. They should also be capable of relaying complicated tax and accounting concepts in a way that’s easy to understand for those not familiar with the terminology. Essentially, accountants should be able to speak in “plain English”.
An accountant’s ability to work through more complex ideas and terms will form the bedrock of an enthusiastic, encouraging working relationship; it’s a necessity between a company and its accountant.
An efficient tax bill is not simply about generating numbers and submitting expenses. A well skilled accountant will be able to look at all possible options and make sure their clients are aware of all the tax expenditure they can claim for. They will also have a good, up-to-date knowledge around applicable company tax schemes; the more an accountant knows, the more they can keep their client’s tax bill as low as possible.
In a fast-paced world of urgent deadlines, being organised is essential in stopping clients from incurring any late fees. Additionally, managing transactions, portfolios and other important documents and records means a good account should have excellent ordering skills. This may include cloud based software and paperless accounting systems.
Accounting practices are constantly evolving, with government guidelines and legislation changes occurring regularly, and often at a moment’s notice. A good accountant will therefore need to be very adaptable, and able to take unpredictable challenges in their stride.
As the Making Tax Digital era moves on, accountants will be kept on their toes, so it’s essential they look forward and embrace change.
The most successful accountants tend to work in a transparent yet discreet manner, adhering to the highest ethical standards as laid out by the industry regulator. If a client can’t get through to you on the phone, regularly misses deadlines and finds you’re slow to reply to emails, they’ll start voting with their feet. And they won’t be too happy about it either.
Why work with us
Myriad Associates (the company behind Tax Cloud UK) know what it takes to make a great accountant. We specialise in R&D tax relief only. It’s what we do - and that’s what makes us experts.
If you are looking for a reliable R&D tax relief advisor who can help you make the most of your claim, speak to us today. We have accountants and specialists based at our offices in London, Leicester and Dublin, but work with clients up and down the UK.
Call 0207 118 6045 or use our contact page. Our handy Portal for Accountants is a quick and easy way for accounting firms to offer a comprehensive R&D Tax Credit service, and was created by the experts at Myriad Associates. It even integrates with Xero and is a great way to attract new clients and boost your bottom line too.