Your relationship with your accountant is really important. In fact, far from the bygone stories of the past, a great accountant is defined by the relationship they have with you. You should expect more contact than a one-off phone call that only comes at the end of the year.
All the time you’re making big and small decisions about the direction of your business, and you want someone you trust and respect to support you through the year. Unfortunately, we come across plenty of folks who’ve had the opposite experience. Who feel neglected, rather than supported.
In a smaller firm, contact is likely to be more regular (and more personal)
This isn’t a hard and fast rule. But there’s something to be said for connecting with a smaller firm of accountants. In a larger firm amongst lots of clients, you can feel like a small fish in a big ocean – a little lost in the dark and forgotten about.
At Starfish Accounting, our clients are working with us at various levels, but we treat all clients like family.
We offer all the normal services you’d expect from an accountant – statutory returns, payroll, bookkeeping etc. But we also partner with many of our clients in actively helping their business to grow. ‘Partner’ is the key word here. When we work with clients in this way, we get involved in their business and become a sounding board for them throughout the journey.
Not all clients will be working with us at this level, but our principles are the same whether you’re getting some simple bookkeeping support or partnering with us fully. We’re always at the end of the phone, or available for phone calls. If you have an issue with Xero, or have had an unusual letter from the Tax Man, or you need some business advice, we’re there to help you find a solution.
We always do our best to help – because we’re a friendly bunch, but mainly because our clients are important to us. Truth is, anyone can be friendly – you want more than just friendly. We want you to succeed, and we want you to carry on coming up with fabulous ideas and building your businesses, and looking to us for help and support. Without our clients, our cogs do not turn, our phones do not ring, and our email inboxes are empty…
After you’ve signed up with an accountant, you want to feel looked after
No one likes buyer remorse, whether you’re purchasing a product online or signing up with a new accountant. Remember all those terrible stories from people buying artwork for their homes on eBay, only to be disappointed upon delivery to receive a phony piece the size of a playing card?
We understand there’s a similar fear when you sign up with a new accountant. You’re hoping all the promises they made when they talked you through their process are really true. You’re hopeful you can trust them.
Well, we want you to feel more sure than a glimmer of hope. We want you to feel looked after from day one – so we’ve laid out here exactly what it looks like to partner with us from the moment you sign the proposal. This is the kind of contact you can expect from us as you start your journey.
We will get in touch with you initially to say hi!
We’re a friendly bunch and we want you to feel part of our team. The first email you receive from us will include a link you’ll click to take you to our new client form. We ask you to fill in the form so we can get you all set up correctly on our systems – this will assist us in making our onboarding process as seamless as possible for you.
We conduct some initial required checks
Once this has been completed, and you have been set up on our systems, the next step in our process is to conduct an AML (Anti Money Laundering) check. This is a standard procedure for all our clients and is in line with HMRC regulations. We are legally obliged to put in place certain controls to make sure you are who you say you are.
That’s the admin done!
If you have signed up for any services that include us setting up a Xero account for you, then you’ll next hear from one of our accountants, who will send you a welcome email with some helpful hints and advice on the best way to start using your Xero account.
The majority of our clients will then happily (hopefully!) carry on running their business using their new Xero account and won’t need anything else from us to get cracking. Of course, we’re always here for a catch up, but you should be set without any problems!
Days can turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and before you know it we get to that time of the year when the accounts/tax return/VAT return/payroll needs to be done.
You will always hear from us well before this point regarding the information you will need to provide us with so that we can do the necessary work for you. Once completed, then you will hear from us to give approval / sign accounts and tax returns as a formality to let you know that the work has been completed.
Many of our clients have regular reviews to stay accountable to their goals
For some this will be monthly, some quarterly and some less frequent (depending on your needs). These reviews can cover wide ranging areas. Some examples include:
- Reviewing forthcoming tax liabilities and tax planning options
- How to manage problems with overdue customer payments
- How the business has performed vs budget or forecast and why there are differences
- Suggestions on how to change pricing or improve profitability
Basically it’s like having a well informed sounding board to depend on. We can help to keep clients accountable when they’ve planned to put some changes in place, and sometimes prevent a bad decision before it is too late.
No matter what level of service, look for a healthy relationship with people you like
It sounds simple, and we appreciate that after a negative experience it can feel a little hopeless. Make sure you know what to expect from your accountant. When it comes down to it, base your expectations on the relationship they promise. Are they a fit with your values? Do you trust in their process and feel you’ll be looked after from day one?
If in doubt, ask questions. We believe there are no silly questions! No matter what level of service you require, we’re genuinely interested in getting to know you and your business goals, thoughts and ideas. And you can start by getting to know us.