Your accountant as your new best friend – part 2

BLOG2nd Mar 2015

In the second part of a two-part blog, we explain the role that accountants can play in offering their clients business advice.

I’ve already outlined how important accountants can be to a business owner or manager when the company is just getting started. As your enterprise grows, however, there are plenty more opportunities for your accountant to act as a trusted and influential adviser. Critically, they will be able to ask you questions and challenge your strategy from an impartial perspective.

Most straightforwardly, there will be those regular meetings in which you review accounts and look back at what has been happening over the past year.

Perhaps the accountant spots that you’ve taken on sub-contractors? They appear at first glance to be self-employed, but might the Revenue argue that they’re effectively employees, leaving you liable to pay their national insurance contributions and additional penalties? Maybe there has been an increase in advertising expenditure in the same period. Is there a reason for this and is it possible to demonstrate that it’s been effective at bringing in new business?

All kinds of other issues might arise, of course. In the age of cloud computing, maybe it’s pointless to invest in costly new IT equipment. Your accountant may be able to provide some expertise in this area and draw on the experiences they’ve gained through supporting other clients. What about your insurance policies? Are you covered in the event of key people within the business moving on or becoming incapacitated?

Most fundamentally, your accountant can look at your profit figures and help you to set them in a wider context. Is the market shrinking or growing? What are competitors doing? It might be that you need to look at refocusing your business on areas that are most profitable.

Your accountant should be aware of important legislative changes – pension auto enrolment, adjustments to retail rates relief and so on. They should also help you look to the future and think about strategies for organic growth, acquisition and the raising of finance.

Last, but by no means least, you may want advice on an exit some years down the line. Do you need to think about succession planning? Or consider the respective merits of a trade sale against, say, a management buy-out?

Whatever the size of your business and your long-term goals, your accountant really can become an adviser, impartial sounding board and friend. So make the most of them!