Love to Hate Your Accountant? 8 Ways to Know It’s Time to Break Up

bad accountants

Time and again I hear of entrepreneurs complaining about a lack of accurate books – but in the same breath say that they have been with their accountants for so long that they couldn’t possibly leave.

Sounds crazy, right? Sure, your relationship with an accountant feels personal. But how bad does it have to get before you know it’s time to make a change?

Here are 8 questions to help you decide if its time to breakup with your accountant.

1. Does your accountant understand your business?

Having accountants who do not understand what makes your business tick, means that they will find it hard to identify opportunities (or risks!) for you. Wouldn’t you rather work with people who understand your business model, believe in your vision and support you? A pro-active accountant will provide more than tax advice – they can become an integral part of your team. Look to them for guidance on pricing, margins, compensation, credit decisions, bank relationships and more.

2. Do they answer when you call – and react quickly?

If your accountant is ever busy and all they can offer is half an hour per week when you have a critical problem, then it is time to let them go. When you find the right team, you’ll see how powerfully they can impact your business. Make the finance function in your business part of your strategic advantage – starting with the people who really understand how finance works and what it can do for you. And make sure they are available for enough time each week to be a proactive player on your team.

3. Ever been surprised by a tax bill?

You’ve finally finished the year and you are excited about your accomplishment. However, your accountants are busy and they do not tell you the consequences of your performance until April.

That’s when you learn that you have to make a huge payment … tomorrow.
If that’s what your accounting team calls tax planning, you’ve got the wrong team. Accounting should be just a part of the finance function of your company — and together, the finance department should be giving you clear visibility into cash flow, profitability, tax liabilities, and more.

4. Do you understand every line in the financial statements?

When closing the financial year, you were pretty sure that your profit for the year was $200,000, but when the adjustments were made, you now show a loss. How did that happen?

If you notice large adjustments that are not clear as to why they were made – or accounts that are not clearly defined – call the accountant onto the carpet and get an explanation. If you still have a problem understanding them, it’s time to let them go.

5. Are you paying by the hour?

Are you always afraid to ask your accountants for advice or for further additional reports for fear of running up another bill? There are better ways to pay.

Consider a group that will provide you with a monthly fee for managing your company accounts. This will help you budget smarter, and get more value too. Don’t stick with an accountant that starts the meter running every time you call or send an email.

6. How accurate are they?

Did you know that you are liable if your accountant makes a mistake? If you notice frequent mistakes in your company’s books, what else are they doing wrong?

Accurate financial statements are critical to the success of any business. Investors and banks know this – and so should your accountant. So if you have an accountant, but not good financial statements, maybe it’s time for a change.

7. Can you have a real conversation with them?

Communication is critical to the success of any business, and accountants are notoriously poor communicators. But don’t settle for that – without clear two-way communication, you’ll never get the full value out of a relationship.

The right accountant communicates regularly, asks questions and even points out problematic areas that need to be addressed immediately. Take a look at your relationship with your current accountants and if you notice gaps in communication, it is time to move on and find someone who talks your language.

8. Do they know absolutely everything?

Do your accountants claim to know every area of accounting? This is a red flag. Accountants have expertise and experience in particular areas. Some specialize in tax issues and generally accepted accounting practices, while others have expertise in investment advice, financing options, valuing your business and coaching. If your accounting team is a jack of all trades, it’s time to let them go.

Final Thoughts

Getting your finances in order is critical to the success of your business. Lack of change leads to complacency and you may over time believe that your business is doing just fine. If your accountants are not performing as required, it’s time you found an accounting firm that delivers the professionalism and quality of work you deserve.

Comment below and tell us — What are some issues you are facing with your accountants?

About the Author
Faith Kamau is a small business expert and freelance writer. She lives with her daughter and they both enjoy reading and blogging. You can find out more about on her LinkedIn profile.

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