How can you reduce your accounting fee?
3rd November 2017 by Jonathan Wingfield
Having seen many clients over the years, I think that it is fair to say that there are different views on the fees charged by accountants. I am happy to say that the majority of my clients are happy with the charges I make; but this does not happen by accident and a lot comes down to communication. When looking to complete someone’s accounts, I wish to understand what the client wants – are they simply looking for the bare minimum that allows them to comply with the legal requirements or do they wish for more? And if more, how much more? Are detailed management accounts required, or analysis of the figures, cash flow forecasts, tax planning, do clients wish for regular meetings throughout the year or are they happy to discuss via email any queries, the list goes on. Once I know what is required, work can be tailored accordingly to provide the client with information that they will actually use – at the level they require.
This said, the fee level is not just down to this, what you do as a client makes a significant difference. So for example, if you just want basic accounts to be completed and bring me a mixed box of receipts with a muddled spreadsheet, well this is going to be more expensive than providing me with a nicely laid out spreadsheet or a fully reconciled backup from Sage. Like with many things, the old adage “rubbish in, rubbish out” still applies and I am afraid to say with be reflected in costs.
Timing – this really is everything. If you are considering a major change, or are worried about tax, the sooner this is addressed the better. In some cases people have avoided this with the view of delaying professional fees but generally speaking, leaving significant tax planning to the last minute results in higher fees from professionals as they are having to undertake work quickly in order to get it done and this is likely to be at higher levels – resulting in higher fees. Also there can be lost opportunities, significant tax planning normally requires structures to be in place before the event (i.e. a sale of assets), if this is left too late the additional tax cost could significantly outweigh the professional fees.
The relationship between you and your accountant should ideally be one of confidence and long standing. This is the view that I take and as such I look to help people develop their bookkeeping or accounting so they become confident in what they are doing. This allows me to focus more of my time on more complex but valuable areas such as tax planning. The process is very much a two way affair; to ensure the best result for both sides we must communicate what is wanted and be open.
If you wish to discuss any aspects of your accounting requirements, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free initial meeting and I will be pleased to hear from you.
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