How do I find a reputable accountant


Spend the necessary time to find an accountant or bookkeeper who is right for your business. Consider factors such as price, capacity, personality, industry expertise and location.

Your accountant or bookkeeper is probably one of the most valuable resources you lean on when setting up and running your business. While it may be tempting to manage your own accounts, it’s best to apply your energy to building your sales and your business.

As with any service provider, it is essential that you find the right kind of financial management resource for your business. Starting out, it would pay you to make use of an individual or a company that provides bookkeeping and accounting services to small businesses, rather than employing one in-house. The direct cost is much lower and you may not initially need such intensive attention.

Also, it is important to know the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant. The former would usually not have the same level of qualification and certification, and would generally make sure that your financial records comply with the various business and tax laws.

An accountant usually provides a higher level of service, will have higher qualifications and greater authority to assess your business administration and compliance, and be able to provide more in-depth advice on complex financial decisions.

The nature of service providers of any description is that no two are the same. This applies to the financial management of your business; some accountants specialize in specific sectors or industries in which they have built up worthwhile experience, and some specialize in businesses of specific sizes.

When starting on your journey of finding one of these professionals, it always pays to tap into your network to seek referrals. A personal referral is always a good idea because you are likely to get an honest assessment of the service provider’s level of service and expertise. Also, don’t limit yourself to meeting with only one bookkeeper or accountant. It may take a little longer to find one you believe will add value to your business, but in the long run, it will save you the hassle of changing providers if you are not happy.

There are also professional bodies and associations you can turn to for referrals or to check credentials.

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers is a good place to start, as are the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the SA Institute of Professional Accountants and the Association of Accounting Technicians.


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    Personally I'd recommend asking within your network for recommendations.
    I agree Gary I have always sourced my accountants through people I know. It is a big decision trusting someone with your businesses financial well being!
    I found my accountant pretty much through a referral too. I had looked for an accountant before but they were charging exhorbatant fees on a monthly basis! Why do we have to keep accountants on a retainer? why cant we pay them for the services they provide as and when we need them?
    Absolutely. As with all things not all accountants are created equal. The benefit of finding the right accountant (or the cost of using the wrong one) can have a massive impact on your business. Word of mouth is king.
    Has anyone ever been taken for a ride by an uncredited accountant? It would be interested to hear the lessons learnt from that experience.
    Since an accountant should be knowledgeable about your business environment your tax situation and your financial statements it makes sense to ask them to pull all the pieces together and help you come up with a business plan and personal financial plan. Accountants can offer advice on everything from insurance (do you really need business interruption insurance or is it cheaper to lease a second site?) to expansion (how will additional capacity affect operating costs?). Accountants can bring a new level of insight simply by virtue of their perspective. But how do you know who the right fit for your business is?
    I think it would have been ideal if we had accountants specialising in different industries. For instance I am running a media and communications agency over and above needing a business accountant I also need a project account because when I produce a programme for TV for instance I receive a budget which I have to manage and for which I have to produce a cost report for at the end of the day which I have to submit to the broadcaster. Fortunately productions have production accountants which do this for us and those reports need to be combined with the company books...
    Is the accountant's style compatible with yours? Be sure the people you are meeting are the same ones who will be handling your business. At many accounting firms some partners handle sales and new business then pass the actual account work on to others.
    Very very good point! Applies not only to your accountant but to anyone you're going to depend on for key services.
    I've battled with this before. I've used a number of accounting firms for my business who when I asked for some advice told me that they are not allowed / qualified to give advice! This is an important question to ask before commencing with the relationship I think. Establish exactly what it is they can and can't do. Great point...
    Ask about this upfront. Most accounting firms charge by the hour. However others work on a monthly retainer. Get a range of quotes from different accountants. Also try to get an estimate of the total annual charges based on the services you have discussed. Don't base your decision solely on cost however as an accountant who charges higher hourly rate is likely to be more experienced and able to work faster than a novice who charges less.
    Hi Khanyi having an accountant that understands your industry is adefinite plus!However whilst business owners are very busy juggling and being the master of all - it is important that the entrepreneur understands their own business expenses as well and does not just drop the bag of receipts with their accountant to make sense of! Some throughts...1.Splitting your business and personal account is a start 2. Knowing that the money that comes into your business account is not yours to spend personally! - this leads to a clear distinction between business expenses and personal expenses. There's a tool powered by Nedbank called Money manager -that assists in pulling through your bank statements and you're able to filter your expenses by business & personal and translate into a cashflow statement. This could be used as a great conversation with you and your account in starting to understand how your business / industry operates...