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If your view of your external accountant has been simply to drop your books off with them once a year, wait for the number crunching to be done, pay your tax and then go your separate ways for another year, then think again. You may be missing out on a potentially good friendship.
Have you ever considered how getting closer to your accountant could benefit your business? Instead of meeting up just once a year for a look in the rear view mirror meeting to sign off the annual accounts and confirm your tax liability, how about meeting with your accountant at some interim point during the year and prior to the year end to make some proactive decisions?
These in year meetings, particularly just prior to the financial year end, can be useful in helping to forecast potential tax liabilities and take action where necessary. Capital expenditure decisions can be taken to utilise Annual Investment Allowances to minimise tax liabilities. Pension contributions can be scheduled prior to the financial year end to attract tax relief. These meetings can also be used to decide upon dividends to reward shareholders.
Regular contact with your accountant doesn’t have to be face to face in a meeting room or in town over a coffee somewhere, this can be over the phone or by email. The key is to establish your best point of contact which doesn’t have to be the overall partner, more often than not you may find your best point of contact is the relationship manager or accounts senior who puts your accounts together.
Once you know who this person is, get their email address, their direct dial and if possible their mobile telephone number. You need to establish with this person what the key dates and deadlines are for your business such as VAT quarter ends, tax payment deadlines and when your accounts are needed by. With your diaries synchronised the way forward will be much clearer.
One way to develop your relationship with your accountant could be to tap into their network. Your accountant is likely to be a very well connected person both locally, regionally and maybe beyond. Not only do they act for a number of different businesses but also have several outside contacts which may be of benefit to you - banks, finance companies, solicitors and investors. Your accountant will refer you to someone they know and trust. Accountants also enjoy work being referred to them, so if you know of someone who could benefit from the services of your accountant, don’t be afraid to make the introduction!
Many accountants now recognise that the relationship between them and their clients is an ongoing process throughout the year. Instead of a one off annual fee, their client’s cash flows are assisted by monthly billing or quarterly fees.
I encourage you to become closer to your accountant for the benefit of your business. They may prove to be the best friend you never knew you had!
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