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What should you look for when hiring an accountant?

Published On: March 25, 2021Categories: Accounting, Support

A good accountant is the key to a long and successful business. And we aren’t just saying that because we’re trying to justify our existence – a good accountant is worth their weight in gold.

Long-term planning, tax accounting, making big financial decisions… each of these are big decisions, and need to be made with great care. Specifically, they need to be made with the assistance of an accountant.

Whether you’re hiring an in-house accountant or shopping around for an external accountant to look after your business’ financial needs, hiring an accountant is just like any other hiring decision.

Namely, it needs to be done carefully to ensure you get the right business accountant in Melbourne.

Just one question: what do you need to look for?


Does the type of accountant matter?

As with many other professions and industries, accounting is one governed by a number of different specialisations, many of which can help you achieve your business goals:

  1. Auditor
  2. Tax accountant
  3. Financial accountant
  4. Management accountant

While any accountant will be able to perform accounting fundamentals, if you need particular accounting services, it’s crucial that you choose one who has experience or training in the particular accounting fields you need.

For example, business taxes can get pretty complicated with all of the different exemptions and allowances, as well as the annual changes. To ensure that your tax affairs are 100% above-board, it’s a good idea to choose a tax specialist (one who is registered with Tax Practitioners Board).

Moreover, it’s also important to engage an accountant that’s a member of a professional body such as CPA or CA.

Luckily, any one of them can take care of your small business accounting needs. Still, it can be something that you might want to consider!

How do I find a good accountant? 5 important qualities for an accounting career

While you might be great at interviewing for the other important aspects of your business, when it comes to picking out the qualities that make for the most suitable accounting applicant, you’re left scratching your head. How do you find a good accountant?

Luckily, our team is here to help you understand what you should look for when interviewing potential accounting applicants.

It isn’t just their accounting skills that you’ll need to look at – one area that’s increasingly important is accounting ethics. After all, a small business accountant holds a lot of responsibility, and in many cases, your business’ long-term viability is in their hands!

When it comes to finding an accountant to help you establish, grow or manage your business, there are a couple of things you to need to keep an eye out for:

  • Professional competence and due care – their technical skills in accounting
  • Integrity – fair dealings, honesty and transparency
  • Objectivity – their ability to make recommendations free of personal bias and external influence
  • Confidentiality – your financial details are private
  • Professional behaviour – in addition to professionalism, this also covers compliance with Australian laws, taxes and generally-accepted accounting principles (GAAP)

These 5 qualities are explicitly identified in the International Federation of Accountants’ (IFAC) code of ethics. All accountants should possess these 5 traits. 

Be sure to create hypothetical questions that address each of these points and include them in your interview.

The skills of an accountant: what are technical skills in accounting?

When it comes to technical skills in the accounting profession, most of the time the focus is on their ability to create financial reports and crunch the numbers.

However, these aren’t the only technical skills an accountant needs to possess.

Accountants have always had to have solid computer skills – we’re power users when it comes to programs like Xero, MYOB and Microsoft Excel.

However, computer skills have become even more important in recent years as accounting and bookkeeping increasingly go digital.

There are countless new accounting programs on the market nowadays, most of which endeavour to make the process considerably easier, offering:

  • Remote access
  • Off-site back-ups
  • Automatic reports and calculations
  • Automated tax calculation
  • Add-ons and plugins that make your accounting easier

Of course, this means that today’s accountants need to be extra tech-savvy.

It isn’t like 2005 when there were only a handful of different programs in use. Nowadays, there are dozens, meaning that any accountant you bring on-board must be able to adjust to whatever system you use and make it work with their own system.

Not just basic accounting skills: what other services does your accountant offer?

It isn’t just the tech that’s changing either – so too are the services we offer.

Take our accountants in Beaumaris for example. While small business accounting might be what we focus on primarily, by no means is it the only service we offer.

Many small business owners find that their personal finances are complicated by their business. You might need a tax accountant in Melbourne to face a changed tax situation now that you’re a business owner. Some decide that they need specialised help.

Because of this, it’s worth asking accountants what other services they offer.

For example, our accounting firm in Melbourne offers a range of other accounting services such as:

  • Estate planning
  • Tax wealth accounting
  • Power of attorney
  • Wills and succession planning

As your finances become more complex, you mind yourself needing the assistance of an accountant in more than just your business. Think about what services you might need in the future when choosing an accountant for your business.

small business accountant


Remember, you’re looking for an accountant, not a bookkeeper

What are some bookkeeping services, and how do I find a good bookkeeper and an accountant?

While a lot of business owners conflate the two, don’t be fooled: these are actually two very different professions that help your business in different ways.

Essentially, bookkeepers look after the day-to-day transactions at a business. Their job is to record and report information like expenses, revenue, cash flow and more so that business owners can see how they’ve performed the previous week, month or quarter.

By contrast, accountants focus on taking stock of your business’ overall financial position and wellbeing, providing advice, planning for the future and helping you make decisions about what to do next.

We take the information that your bookkeeper collects and use it to help you plan for the future. Accounting is forward-looking, while bookkeeping is about record-keeping and tracking what has happened.

While there’s some overlap, when looking for business accountants in Melbourne you’ll need to remember this distinction.

Get the accounting help you need

Our accounting team is here to help your business thrive

Whether you’re a tradie, an IT business or a small shop owner, good accounting is the key to a thriving business.

As such, it’s important that you get in contact with the right accountant to look after things for you. Whether you need BAS and IAS accountants, personal accountants or the help of a tax accountant in Melbourne, the right financial advice is key.

Whatever you need, if you need an accountant in Beaumaris, our team is the one to call.

Our accounting team has one mission: to get you where you want to be, whether that’s in your personal finances or in your business.

Find out how we can help you today – get in touch with our accounting team today on (03) 9589 5488.

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