Changing accountants – yes/no/maybe?

How hard is it to change accountants? Not hard at all – much easier than changing banks.

People are generally quite loyal and don’t like changing accountants even if they are unhappy with the service, the product or the price. Partly it is because the pain of the annual accounts process is soon forgotten and it is just another put off-able low priority chore to change accountants, and partly it is that they don’t know who to change to and are not confident that changing will improve things. A year quickly rolls by and the process repeats.

Some do change though – every week we get enquires from people who are not happy with their current accountant. When I hear their reasons it is often because their current accountant is either unresponsive, providing poor quality advice, expensive or all of the preceding.

I’m appalled and embarrassed to be in the industry when I hear that sort of thing. Sadly though it isn’t that uncommon, I was on an IRD run course a while ago and I was astounded how many accountants and tax agents were behind in their taxes with IRD. If you can’t look after your own affairs then you probably won’t do a very good job for your clients.

It is reasonable to expect your accountant to:

  1. Be responsive and available – answer the phone and emails promptly and treat you with respect.
  2. Provide excellent service. Give quality and timely advice, schedule the work and complete it when they say they will.
  3. Provide good value and no surprises. Charge a fair price and tell you what it will cost up front. You shouldn’t be charged for short phone calls and emails, that’s part of the service.
  4. Understand that each client is different and has different needs. Accountancy isn’t a factory producing identical widgets, it is service industry providing clients with the services they want.
  5. Be proactive – if things are going wrong for you they should fix it before it gets serious.
  6. Suggest you use Xero. I had to add this as we get so much feedback from our clients saying things like “we really like working with you and what you do for us, but one of the the best things you have done for us is recommend we use Xero”. We have never lost a client by recommending Xero (but we have gained quite a few).
  7. Allow you to choose to move accountants without trying to lock you into contracts that bind you (check the fine print). If you want to change accountants it is your choice, all you should need to do is pay for any work your current accountant has done to date. Any contract probably won’t be enforceable anyway.

So how do you change accountants? Easy, call us, find out what we can do for you and what it will cost then if you want to change to us you sign an engagement letter that lays out what we do and the costs and we take care of it from there. Sit back and enjoy the ride while we contact your previous accountant to get your records, and we link up to IRD as your accountants.

Later on if you change your mind about us, no problem, changing accountants is easy!

Martin