What do you look for in your Accountant


I am posing a general question here, just to see some responses.

Property investment aside,
What do you look for in your accountant?
What makes them so appealing to you?
Why do you stay with them?
What makes them better than the next?
(If you dont mind answering, how old are you? 18-25, 26-35, 36-45, 46+

Please dont post business names or referrals, i am just after some general answers as part of a think tank we are doing as a group.

Kind regards

On a (slightly) more serious note:

The main things I think we look for are:

1. number of errors (need to have at least one return done to find out)

2. number of new suggestions made that we didn't think of ourselves

3. exhibits knowledge beyond ours in the area of income tax

4. overall cost

5. timeliness/deadlines

6. Membership of ACA or ACPA (probably not NIA)

7. Administrative ability of support staff / communications

Please note these are very biased personal parameters - as we have a CPA "in house" which means that the main function of the accountant is a "time" and "specialised knowledge" issue.


The Y-man
Some more...

Ask for staff turnover...the less they turn over the higher the quality of work done. Not to mention when they have the same accountants year after year they will eventually know your job back to front, which generally means lower time spent on it thus lower fees.

Ask them how they manage work flow. Do they give you a call to come in AFTER your work is done, or book you in before its even started? When the latter is done, it is usually riddled with mistakes.
As Brian mentions it is preferable to have one that can assist with structuring and being proactive about your plans moving forward.

It is difficult to undo/change entities later down the track.

In addition to Y-man's points, it is preferable (for me at least) that they are an investor themselves and across assett classes. They should be savvy about how to strucuture your affairs to suit your current circumstances and still allow enough felxibility for future changes.

It is more than simply crunching numbers for you and doing your tax returns.

** EDIT ** ............... Empire aren't you an accountant yourself. I recall from another thread you mentioned that you were in this field?

Are you looking at what qualities we all seek to keep in mind enhance your own development in this area?
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I think the main question you have to ask yourself is do you want an accountant to just file your tax return, and therefore you pay the appropriate fee, or do you want someone who will take ideas to you, for the appropriate fee of course.
David, I would suggest arranging a meeting with several accountants in your area. I went and visited three accountants and just chose the one I felt most comfortable with as that is important for me since they will have access to all my personal details, banking and business. The accountant I found didn't have money signs in his eyes and he even showed me around his maritime museum that he has in his building.

My accountant has been great too so it certainly does pay to look around and find a good one.
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