It’s not easy to find a good accountant that matches the needs of your business, but is there a way to make it easier? Recruiting a good accountant means balancing your needs in relation to skills, personality and experience with restrictions around salary and affordability. If you want some help in getting the balance right for your business, then read on for our 5 tips to help you recruit the right accountant.
1. Job description
Recruitment and compromise go hand in hand, but on the upside you can often have your expectations exceeded as well. Create some definition around the role you are recruiting by deciding upfront what you would like the role to look like and what responsibilities it will include. In practise accounting can range from straightforward tasks like data entry through to more complex elements such as cash flow forecasting and strategic budget planning. By defining what you want from your accountant \you will gain some clear parameters in terms of required skill level and basic role expectations that will be key in the recruitment process.
2. Local or remote?
The power of technology means that working relationships can now be conducted across countries or indeed across time zones and oceans. Your recruitment process does not need to be limited to the city or town in which you operate your business, and it’s worth remembering that when you widen your search geographically you also increase the pool of candidates who have the potential to meet your needs and criteria.
Again, it’s worth applying some forward planning to where you want your accountant to be based. Do you want them to be able to attend meetings with you and talk face to face with clients or suppliers? If so, a long distance relationship may not work well for your business. Remember also that if you recruit from outside your country of operation it will be important to make sure that your accountant is aware of local regulations and challenges in relation to financial management and tax.
3. Skills and experience
Once you’ve defined the responsibilities of your future accountant, it should be possible to outline the level of skill and experience that you require. Take time to check that any applicants have achieved and maintained the required qualifications and certification. Usually this means that they can refer to themselves as a Chartered Accountant or in some cases Certified Public Accountant, and translates to you being able to trust that they have achieved a level of skill and have undergone ongoing training in order to maintain that level.
Look for candidates who have worked with businesses in similar sectors and of similar sizes and profiles. Every business is different but there are parallels in the issues that accountants will deal with across industries and markets. If you’re exploring the possibility of hiring an accounting firm or contractor, have a look at their current or historical client list so you can see if there are any similarities. Why not also ask how long the clients have been with the firm? It’s a great indicator for how satisfied they are.
Review your recruitment checklist and set some clear guidelines about the level of expertise you are looking for in order to fulfil the responsibilities you have outlined. It’s also important to consider the accounting system your candidate will use – experience in any existing system you use is essential unless you are considering changing systems as part of the recruitment process.
By now you will have defined what your accountant will do, where they will be based, and the skills and experience they will need to fulfil your expectations. So it’s time to get your network to work for you and seek recommendations and referrals in order to kickstart the recruitment process. Your network should have a good understanding of both you and your business, and with the added information you can provide that defines your accounting needs, you can easily canvas their feedback and find out if they can recommend someone who will fit with your business.
Utilising your network for recruitment purposes shouldn’t just be limited to your business network. Using your social network for recommendations and referrals could fast-track your recruitment search.
Salary is an incredibly important consideration in your recruitment process. Once you’ve worked out what you need your accountant to be capable of, it’s important to work out if you can afford it. As a rule the more you pay, the higher the level of skills and experience you can bring into your business. You may find that this process could be slightly iterative, until you get the mix of roles and your expectations around experience aligned with your budget. Start off by getting some benchmark numbers that will indicate the salary levels you can expect to pay based on expertise. If your needs exceed your budget then consider managing the number of hours you require in order to trade off cost and experience. You will invariably get more value from fewer hours with the right person than more hours with the wrong one.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to get an accountant for your business, then you have probably already worked out the value that their expertise can bring to the way that you operate. Optimise your recruitment process by defining that value with clearly set out roles and responsibilities. Your detailed understanding of the role that you are creating will in turn allow you to define the level of skill and expertise you need to fulfil your expectations. And the time you invest in getting the recruitment process right will add even greater value to the money you invest in employing an accountant. Getting the right accountant for your business should create opportunities to save money and allow you to think smarter and plan your cash flow more effectively. Then your business will have greater flexibility to grow and meet your future goals.
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