Common problems that company directors have with their accountants

Feeling stressed because you’re not happy with your accountant and think you’re not getting value for money? The business relationship with your accountant is crucial for your company’s success. A positive and productive relationship can make a huge difference. But if it’s the opposite, the long-term consequences are concerning, and knowing what to do can be tricky.


What should my accountant be doing for me?

When you hire an accountant initially, they typically give you a letter of engagement to clarify their terms and service conditions. Besides the evident tasks like reducing your tax liability and managing statutory returns/accounts, what other responsibilities might they handle?

  • Managing correspondence from HMRC and Companies House
  • Offering guidance on tax planning
  • Handling basic bookkeeping tasks (unless you employ a separate bookkeeper or utilise in-house staff)
  • Overseeing the company’s payroll and addressing Real-Time Information requirements
  • Registering the company for VAT upon reaching the threshold
  • Supplying professional references

So, what might go awry in this relationship? 

Here are some typical grievances we hear from directors, along with suggestions for similar situations.


“My accountant charges too much”

The cost of an accountant’s service typically depends on factors like business structure, the organisation of your financial records, and whether you handle any financial tasks internally.

If you suspect your accountant is charging excessively, it’s wise to review their fee policy. If it’s time-based, you might be paying more, especially for basic bookkeeping tasks. Conducting some financial administration in-house can save costs if your staff can manage such work.

Alternatively, you might consider a fixed fee arrangement to have a clear understanding of the exact amount for your accountant’s services.


“My accountant is not chartered”

Many believe that only a chartered accountant can prepare limited company accounts. In reality, as long as they follow the proper format for Companies House and are endorsed by the directors, an unqualified or partially qualified individual can handle the task.

While engaging a chartered accountant may offer various advantages, they often charge higher fees compared to unqualified individuals, especially for basic bookkeeping duties.


“My accountant has been negligent”

If your accountant falls behind on the latest tax changes, giving poor advice or miscalculating your tax liability, you might question their accountability.

Taking them to court could be an option if you’ve suffered a significant financial loss and they’ve acknowledged their mistake. The compensation’s extent often hinges on whether they possess professional indemnity insurance.

Complaints about unreliable accountants or those lacking proactivity are common. For instance, failing to file your accounts on time could lead to HMRC imposing financial penalties. Ensure they provide timely reminders for key filing dates and other crucial financial tasks throughout the tax year to mitigate the risk of HMRC penalties.


“Should I change my accountant?”

Consider changing your accountant if dissatisfaction has persisted or a specific error led to financial issues. Switching accountants is not complex, and while it may seem bold, discovering a more fitting alternative that adds value will yield long-term benefits.


How to change your accountant?

When searching for a new accountant, check if they have experience in your sector. This expertise could significantly enhance company profitability, providing tailored advice on tax savings.

If you opt to switch, inform your current accountant of your decision to terminate their services. Request the necessary information for the new person or firm taking over.

The new accountant will contact them to inquire if there are any reasons not to take you on as a client, while also requesting the books and all relevant paperwork.


“My accountant does not save me any tax”

Your accountant must grasp the tax system and offer sound advice to optimise deductions. Minimising your tax liability is a key reason for having a company accountant. If they aren’t adding value in this aspect, it could stem from a lack of understanding about your business or industry.

Consider expressing your concerns, and if there’s no improvement or acknowledgement of your tax issues, it may be beneficial to seek someone with deeper knowledge in the field.

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“My accountant is not up-to-date with technology”

If your business embraces new technology, it might be challenging to accept your accountant’s reliance on older, ‘traditional’ methods of operation. The accountancy field has evolved with technology, and businesses often seek their accountants’ advice on modern business software.

A lack of alignment in this regard can make the professional relationship frustrating for you as a company director. Engage in a conversation with your accountant to inquire about their plans for updating their practices. They might be considering hiring new staff to implement these changes.

Vanguard Insolvency assists company directors grappling with business debts. Our team of insolvency experts provides unbiased, confidential advice, ensuring you comprehend all your options. We offer a same-day, free-of-charge meeting and operate from 36 offices nationwide.

David Jackson MD
Senior Partner at Vanguard Insolvency Practitioners | Website

I am an insolvency professional with a distinguished career specialising in commercial insolvency, adeptly navigating Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, Company Voluntary Arrangements, and Company Administrations. With a comprehensive understanding of insolvency laws and an unwavering commitment to ethical practices.