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If you are not sure if it is time to change your accountant this article may help you decide. Decision to change your accountant is an important one and should not be taken lightly as it can be the best or the worst decision you have ever made for your business.

20:80 Rule

Most accountants and accounting practices are driven by the Pareto’s 20:80 Rule which means that e.g. 80% of income from the practice is coming from 20% of the total clients. Further this principle requires discrimination in the treatment between the clients in order for profitability to be increased. If you think and fell that you are not in the top 20% clients that there is a great chance that you may get a better deal elsewhere.

There are some serious communication problems

If you accountant is not returning and responding to your calls, emails, letters or even worse misses your appointment than this is a definite sign to look for a new accountant. In addition you do not feel any connection to your accountant as he/she is talking numbers only and is not interested about your ideas and you as a person and is not listening to you and your ideas. Also you see or hear your accountant once a year which is another sign of a bad communication an 20:80 rule.

Unfair accounting fees and charges

No accountant who has a long term view to keep client should charge for e.g. sending a fax or letter or for talking with a client 15min on the phone or providing an answer over email regardless of his or her expertise. A real bad example here would be where an accountant is charging you for fixing a job where he/she made a mistake. Any increase in accounting should be justified e.g. increased quality and quantity of accounting services so if charges go up every year and the service stays the same there is something wrong there.

Your accountant does not tell you about your options

Always ask about your possible options about e.g. your taxation planning strategies and if you have only one option this could mean that your only other choice is to find another accountant. Another issue is that your accountant may not be familiar about your circumstances and your business as he/she is delegating your work to the junior staff. The point is that there are always some other options even works case scenarios should be presented to you by your accountant.

There is no comparative reporting

Provided financial reports should be compared with e.g. last year results, competitors or your industry average to have some kind of meaning. If you are paying more tax then the last year you should know why is this so especially if you had more deduction the last year. Also your accountant should investigate any differences between projected tax refund and the actual if any.

Your accountant cannot keep up with your business expansion or changes

Another reason why you should think of changing your accountant is if your business has grown and your current accountant has no experience in dealing with current accounting issues especially if your business is going to be reporting entity or listed on ASX. Ask your accountant what tax and other strategies and changes he is going to implement for you in order to keep up with your growing business and if you are not happy with the answer you know what to do next – take Yellow Pages under sections ‘Accountants’ and start calling.

There is high staff turnover and jobs are not on time

If there is frequent change in staff in your accountants office this may be an indicator of problems inside the organisation especially if your accounting work is not on time or even worse you receive a fine for late lodgment from the Tax Office.

Your accountant does not have any kind of loyalty rewards

If you are a long term client with your accountant ant you do not receive any kind of rewards in e.g. additional services, free services or even a simple car would do this means that your accountant does not have such system implemented or does not care about long term relationship with your business.

Did you learn anything from your accountant?

One of duties of an accountant is to teach and facilitate their clients in the process of developing your business and if this is not happening than your business development may be in question.

You end up with a high tax bill at the end of the year

This simply means that your accountant has not been monitoring your business progress and has not implemented any tax planning during the year and any provisions for PAYG has not been made. It is always easier to pay your tax during the year in 3-4 installments than to pay one lump sum. This often could be a reason for a business failure as payment of one lump sum can significantly influence business cash flows.

Trust your intuition

It there are some other indicators that you are not getting what you are paying for your should try to compare your accounting services with some other accountants services before your make your decision.

Congratulations! Your business is selected for the audit by the Tax Office

If your business is audited by the Tax Office than this may be indicative that there is something wrong with your accountants procedures and policies. Ask for a second opinion.

If anything from above implies in your case you should clarify the issue with your accountant first and if you are still not happy with the explanation do not be afraid to ‘divorce’ your accountant and this may be the best thing you have done for your business.

Mr. D.Kulesko

Registered Tax Agent

Bachelor of Commerce, CPA

Online Tax Agent