Gerry Surtees Chartered Tax Adviser

Behind every good business is an entrepreneur, and usually an expert accountant. 

When you started out in your business your main priority was probably an accountant who did the basics efficiently and cost-effectively, and you didn’t really need any more than that.  For growing businesses however, there quickly comes a point where this simply isn’t enough.

A good accountant will also have a focus on the future and will always be helping you to continually grow and develop your business, whilst constantly reviewing to maximise your tax efficiency and take advantage of tax opportunities.

If you don’t feel ready to change your accountant, you might not need to – we work alongside other accountants on a regular basis where expert input is required on tax strategies, complex transactions and business and financial advice.  In our experience this can be an effective and streamlined partnership, and avoids having to move the compliance aspect of your business to a new firm.  In medical terms, it’s a bit like your GP referring you to a specialist.

If however there are signs that your accountant isn’t getting the basics right for you, it may be time for a change. We’re often approached by prospective clients who are unsure of the process for changing their accountant. There can be a misconception that switching is a time consuming and expensive process.  However, it can be surprisingly straightforward!  Read on to discover how …

Reasons to change accountant

There are many reasons that may be prompting you to consider changing your accountant. These could include:

  • Declining service levels and response times
  • You’ve outgrown your accountant
  • Your accountant doesn’t have the expertise to help you with current business and tax issues
  • You’ve received poor advice which has resulted in issues with HMRC and/or cost you tax unnecessarily
  • They don’t fully understand your business needs
  • You don’t feel supported with your growth plans

The list could go on… read this article on the services your accountant should be providing, but they may not be. 

Before you change accountant…

Before switching, ensure you check the details of your current agreement and confirm whether you have satisfied the length of the agreement. The last thing you want is an early termination fee or an accountant refusing to cooperate when you’re changing over. It may be wise to consider the timing of the switch, considering both any assignments currently in progress with your current accountant, and any statutory deadlines approaching. 

Advising your current accountant

First things first, you will need to write to your current accountant to advise them of your intentions to change and confirm your expectations in regards to work to be finalised.  
Your new accountant will prepare a letter and send on to your existing accountant - this will request professional clearance and request transfer of all documents including copies of accounts, tax records and tax returns. This will also ask your existing accountant if there are any professional reasons why the new accountant should not accept the appointment. 

Registering with your new accountant

Your new accountant will ask you to complete a registration form which will include your personal, as well as company information.  They will also provide a ‘letter of engagement’ where all expectations and requirements are presented for both parties.  

You will also need to assign authority to your new accountant to manage your tax affairs and to be able to deal with HMRC on your behalf.  Your new accountant should manage this process for you by using the HMRC’s online authorisation service to complete this step of the handing over process, or in some cases, provide you with a 64-8 form for you to sign and send to HMRC.

Ready to change accountant? 

Oldfield Advisory ensure the process of changing accountants is as simple as possible, and can guide you one step at a time, with minimal disruption to your business.

If you need expertise you aren’t currently getting, or are thinking of engaging a new accountant, please get in touch with the Oldfield Advisory team today for an initial consultation.