The chartered accountant is one of the most important partners of any company founder or manager, and a key figure in a company’s development.
Not sure how to choose your accounting firm?
You want to hire a chartered accountant but don’t know what the selection criteria are?
Step by step, we present the details that make all the difference.
1 – Know your needs
Before you even start looking for a chartered accountant, you need to ask yourself what you want from them:
- Save time on administrative formalities?
- Fulfilling legal obligations?
- Need advice in a specific area?
- Securing your company’s future?
This not only helps you determine the profile of the firm you will be working with, but also optimizes the engagement letter and protects you from unpleasant surprises.
2 – Ensuring the legality of the consultancy firm
This should be just a formality, but it’s essential.
A chartered accountant must be registered with the Order of Chartered Accountants, and operate as a firm of chartered accountants. This can easily be verified on the Ordre des Experts Comptables website.
Good to know: A management consulting firm is not a public accounting firm.
Only holders of the DEC (Diplôme d’expertise comptable) are eligible to work as chartered accountants.
👆 For more information about the profession of chartered accountant, click here!
3 – Studying the skills and background of the chartered accountant
A chartered accountant is a multi-skilled professional, with skills ranging from accounting, financial and social issues to legal and asset management.
It goes without saying that each chartered accountant has built up a different profile, based on his or her experience and affinities:
- Some choose to remain generalists
- Others prefer to become specialists in a particular field
- Some specialize in a particular sector or type of company
- Some work exclusively with VSEs, others with SMEs.
It’s also worth taking a look at a chartered accountant’s past experience. Experience in a large firm, for example, attests to a solid technical background and a high level of rigor. Experience in a small practice can demonstrate a certain flexibility!
Depending on your current and future situation, there are certain skills that can make a big difference to your business.
😉 Tip: Don’t hesitate to consult Linkedin to find out more about your contacts.
4 – Make sure your contact is available
You want a chartered accountant who’s there when you need him? Are you looking for clear answers to your questions and a quick response?
For a long time, companies preferred accounting firms that were geographically close to them to guarantee this availability.
Today, although human contact is still essential, new technologies have changed all that. Online accounting has become the rule – not the exception – while videoconferencing has replaced meetings.
The implementation of collaborative tools should therefore make it possible to work from anywhere with any chartered accountant.
5 – Check the compatibility of IT tools
In the age of digitalization and digital transition, paper-based accounting is disappearing. Everything is computerized, and files are transmitted quickly and smoothly, without getting lost along the way.
To take advantage of these advances, however, there is one point to check: the compatibility of your computer system with the tools used by the chartered accountant. Files must be able to be read, exported and imported without any loss of information!
If you want real-time accounting, it’s essential that your accountant is able to connect to your management tool. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as you can.
6 – Discuss services and fees
Once you’ve found a consulting firm that seems to meet your needs, it’s time to get down to business and talk about the engagement letter.
This document is the contract you sign with your accountant, and details :
- Services provided by the firm
- The rates applied
- Mission duration
This allows you to compare different quotes objectively, and make the best decision for your business.
⚠️ price is important, but so is your time. Choosing a chartered accountant you can trust, and to whom you can delegate as many tasks as possible, will help you save time and concentrate on your business.
7 – Feeling and communication
We can use whatever term we like, but the fact remains: we get on better with some people than with others.
We strongly recommend that you choose a chartered accountant you can trust, with whom you can talk openly and sincerely. This will facilitate communication for years to come.
🤝Tip: Be careful not to let the personal aspect get in the way: this is first and foremost a professional relationship!
This criterion for selecting a chartered accountant comes at the end of the process, to help you decide between two firms that meet your needs and charge similar rates.
8 – Taking references
Last but not least: before committing yourself to a CPA, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations.
These may come from other appraisal firms or, more often, from companies already working with the professional you are considering signing with.
At this stage, it’s rare to discover a sticking point, but it’s reassuring to hear other executives praise the merits of the person who will soon be doing your bookkeeping.
9 – Right to error
Despite all these precautions, you’re not satisfied with your accountant’s services?
Have your needs changed and the firm you work with can no longer cope?
Are the rates you charge too high for your finances? You should know that your collaboration is never definitive, and that it’s much easier to change chartered accountants than you might think. This can be done at the end of the year as well as during the year.
Do you still have questions?
🔎 If you’d like to find out more about our accountancy services, and more specifically about our digital accountancy services for VSEs and start-ups!