These tips were provided by ITCA - a site dedicated to helping you find the right accountant.
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How to choose the best contractor accountant
1. Use a specialistOnly a specialist provider can understand the particular needs of contractors - both in terms of how a typical contractor operates, but also in terms of the targeted legislation that impacts the freelancer workforce, such as IR35, the Agency Workers Regulations and the Managed Service Company Rules.
2. Don't pay over the oddsMost contractor accountants charge a monthly fee for an all-inclusive service which will cover all your limited company accounting needs. The core service should not vary a great deal between providers, however the variance in fees charged is significant. You can pay anything from £50 to £200 per month. Unless you are receiving some kind of extra personal service, or a number of value added 'extras' thrown in (such as insurance cover), make suer you don't pay too much for your service.
3. Good serviceHow good is your accountant at dealing with his/her clients? For many contractors, good customer service is a paramount prerequesite of signing up to a accountancy firm. You may be able to discover more about the reputations of the leading contractor accounting firms via online forums, or recommendations from colleagues. Does the accountant have a customer charter or money-back guarantee for clients who are disatisfied with the service?
4. QualificationsMake sure the accountancy firm is a full member of one of the leading accountancy bodies in the UK, such as the ACA, ACCA or ACAS. Chances are, your account manager may not hold the full qualification themselves, although their work and certain decisions can only be made via a qualified member of staff.
5. Accounting SystemsWhen researching possible accountancy providers, find out what sort of accounting software you will be provided with. With more and more firms moving on online accounting, you can save a great deal of time and effort by using a web-based system to record your accounting information, and your accountant will be able to access and update your records too. Make sure you are not expected to either complete a basic Excel spreadsheet each month, or simply send in a brown envelope full of receipts each month - things really have moved on since the 1990s!
6. Word of MouthLike all industries, firms with a good reputation gain a lot of their new business via word of mouth. Some contractor accountancy firms enjoy solid reputations within the contracting industry, and some are not so lucky. If possible, ask your contractor colleagues about their experiences with accountancy firms, as a strong recommendation from someone you trust is probably the best route to finding the best contractor accountant.
Further InformationFor advice and guides to all things contracting, try http://www.itcontracting.com.