Partner Alan Mitchell explains the benefits of choosing an accountancy partner who is well connected.
If you’re a business owner, selecting the right accountancy firm can often be a daunting prospect. Is there an easy way of distinguishing one from another? What criteria can you use to make an informed choice? Is a formal qualification from a regulated body like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland enough?
And if you’re running an SME, your instincts could be to go with a smaller, independent firm. They will, after all, have an intuitive understanding of some of the issues you face, while also offering a level of personal service you might assume a larger firm can’t provide.
But at the back of your mind, there’s an understandable question mark. Will they have the depth of expertise, resources or training of the ‘big boys’?
That’s where a network firm can offer an ideal compromise.
When doing your research, ask if the practice is a member of HCWA. If the answer is yes, that should give you a lot of reassurance. It’s an association that has grown steadily in recent years and provides individual member firms with access to a wide range of resources, without the inherent costs associated with the learning curve!
Members of the network have access to industry data, technical support and online tools. They meet regularly with their peers in forums and conferences to discuss the latest issues impacting clients and share feedback on successful initiatives.
One further advantage is that different firms will, of course, have expertise in particular areas of accountancy or operate in specific jurisdictions. So if your own professional adviser doesn’t have the necessary expertise to help you with a particular issue, they can refer you to someone who does.
The message is that you can still think small in terms of personal service, while drawing on a support network that is much bigger. A calibre of service to match the bigger firms, without the eye-watering fees! So that HCWA question really can be all-important.