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Guest blog: 5 ways to maximise your relationship with your accountant

Written for our partners Be Your Own. Ask anyone what an accountant does and they’ll probably all say the same thing. But actually, by nurturing a good working relationship, your accountant can help you achieve so much more.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


10 minute read

Originally written for our partners Be Your Own.

Ask a room of people what an accountant does and they’ll probably all say pretty much the same thing: tax returns, working through figures and mediating with HMRC. But actually, by nurturing a good working relationship, your accountant can help you achieve so much more.

1. Your accountant is your business partner

According to a recent CCAB report, there are approximately 275,000 professional accountants in the UK and Ireland. That's an awful lot of knowledge and experience. Not only that, but all of them will have different strengths and weaknesses, personalities and specialisms. This means it's essential to choose one that's right for both you and your business.

Don’t think of your accountant as someone you (nervously) approach once a year to do your tax return. Instead, consider them an active business partner who can guide through the various business decisions you need to make. It’s about business transparency.

By shifting your approach like this, you’ll not only benefit your business but you’ll also find you can work more collaboratively.

2. Open lines of communication

To maintain a healthy relationship with your accountant, be proactive. Listen to their advice and take it on board, and never be afraid to ask what seems like a silly question.

Also, if your business starts to struggle or accounting is a subject you shy away from, it’s tempting to bury your head in the sand. Perhaps you’ve been through a change in personal circumstances or altered your business plan in some way. Whatever it is, keep your accountant in the loop.

3. Accurate, organised records

Keeping well maintained records of all your business activities and expenses is really important. But also make sure you understand what information your accountant actually needs from you. It can be tricky to get your head around, but once you’ve cracked it you’ll reduce the time they need to analyse your accounts or make changes. This in turn will keep their billable hours down for you.

As already mentioned, don’t be scared to ask any ‘daft’ questions especially if they’re jargon-related. By gaining a clearer understanding of what your accountant needs from you, as well as what you need from them, you’ll end up (usually) singing from the same hymn sheet.

4. Cash flow forecasting

If there’s one thing the Covid pandemic has shown us it’s that decent cash flow can literally mean life or death for your business. But the skill is in knowing how cash flows in and out, and where there are any pinch points.

Your accountant will have a range of tools and insights at their disposal to help you predict your cash flow. They can also make recommendations for different scenarios, allowing you to plan your budgets for whatever life throws at you.

5. Raising funds to grow

Accountants can be instrumental in helping you gain various grants and tax reliefs that can be invested back into your business. This is particularly the case where you’re looking to grow by developing or improving your products or services.

R&D Tax Credits for example are a lucrative government tax incentive that helps cover a sizeable proportion of your R&D costs. As long as your company is registered for Corporation Tax, it can claim back as much as 33% of its eligible expenditure.

The problem is, claiming something like R&D Tax Credits (and R&D grants) can be a minefield. It’s an incredibly niche area of tax with many pitfalls, which is why accountants often work with R&D tax specialists. What we’re saying here is that by having your accountant partner up with other firms offering niche services, you can raise the funds you need to grow your business more quickly and easily.

If you’re also looking at bank loans, private equity or even crowdfunding, your accountant will have the figures, knowledge and experience you need rather than going it alone.

At the end of the day, you want to give your business the very best chance of surviving and thriving. Don’t let this amazing resource pass you by.

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