Financial Strategy

New Year, New Start

While switching accountants may not be a typical New Year’s resolution, if you’ve been dissatisfied with your current professional adviser, it might be worth considering a change. Explore the benefits of a fresh perspective and a more collaborative approach to accounting and taxation for the sake of your business.

I appreciate changing accountants may not be on your New Year Resolutions list, but if you’ve been thinking about it for a while or have been feeling a bit “meh” about the service you have been receiving from your professional adviser, then perhaps for the sake of your business you should take some time to consider a fresh pair of eyes and a more collaborative approach to accounting and taxation?

Of course, we’re all busy people and changing accountants sounds like a distraction that you can do without, but actually, the process is quite simple.

  1. Choose your new business partner carefully, they will be a significant member of your management team, sign their terms and provide them with your personal ID and the name of your current accountant.
  2. With a simple email advise your current accountant that you have made the decision to transfer your affairs and you permit them to respond to your new adviser.
  3. There is no step 3! The two accountancy professionals will liaise directly using a process known as “professional clearance”. This is a best practice approach to switching accountancy providers strongly encouraged by the professional bodies (ICAEW, ACCA, AAT etc).

So, it is apparent that the difficult part here is choosing the right professional to transfer your business and/or personal affairs to. After all, you don’t want to jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire, perhaps the adage “better the devil you know” is true?

But it is also true that you don’t know what you don’t know. What if by staying with a mediocre accounting service, not because they are bad accountants, but simply because you are not a good fit for them causing an expectation gap, means that your business is not getting good value for money, and you are not getting the support and advice you need to reach your objectives? 

Here are 5 tips for finding an accountant that meets your needs without paying the earth.

Do they have appropriate training? 

Now as a member of both ICAEW and ACCA and someone who has helped several young people achieve their professional qualifications, I am somewhat biased towards the benefits of working with a qualified accountant, but the reality is, that if you don’t need much advice and your business is genuinely simple, then you may not need a Chartered Accountant. 

The AAT’s (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification provides a strong grounding and a requirement for ongoing professional development, so could be a great compromise. As long as the person you are about to appoint as your Trusted Advisor is keeping up to date with technical compliance and our changing political environment and demonstrates that they comply with the ethical standards of the profession, you’re on safe ground. 

For more complex businesses or more complex needs, such as advising on property transactions, charity accounting or supporting a CEO with strategic business decisions, the level of knowledge obtained by a Chartered Accountant is worth paying for (in my opinion).

Seek reassurance of their credibility.

Their website will probably tell you everything you want to see/hear, but it was written by them, or marketing professionals employed by them. If you are part of a networking organisation, ask the other members who they are willing to recommend, or if you have Googled, look for reviews online. 

LinkedIn is a great source of knowledge as it not only shows the calibre of the people recommending your shortlisted adviser, but you can also see the kind of language they use and the topics they are interested in.

When you meet or speak to the person you hope to appoint, make sure their values align with yours.

If you have a strong view on ESG for example, or value a relationship outside of the normal working environment, be sure to relay this in your opening brief, not every accountant-client relationship needs to be maintained on a golf course, but similarly, if you don’t find maintaining a relationship remotely particularly easy, consider geography and perhaps select an accountant who operates from a physical office so that you can visit them.

Do they communicate in a style that works for you? 

Some people, like direct, no-fluff correspondence, others prefer a more casual conversation or someone patient enough to take the time to explain their advice. 

Or perhaps you are looking for a sounding board, so will need an accountant who is empathetic and willing to take the time to listen to your business challenges and help you find the solutions you are looking for. Likewise, if you prefer a phone call over an email, then you should be sure to make that clear.

Be really clear about the budget. 

Of course, none of us wants to pay more than we have to, but in the world of professional advice, the key finite resource is time, so be realistic about how much of it you are likely to need, or indeed, can afford.

The biggest reason for clients and accountants “growing apart” is that either party has either misunderstood the brief, or that over time, the needs of either party have changed but the budget hasn’t, both need to feel that fair value has been exchanged.

At Toni Hunter Ltd, we’re clear on the best fit for us, it’s less about the target market and more about the values and mutual respect of a great working relationship between two peers that maximise our potential. If you would like to know more about how we work, visit

Happy New Year, here’s to making 2024 the most successful year yet.


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