Information for New Clients
We welcome new clients all year round.
We use a helpful Online Questionnaire to gather information from you beforehand. That way we can be well-prepared to improve your outcome, making our meetings with you highly productive.
An initial consultation is recommended (book online here) if your accounting and advisory needs are substantial. For example, for an established company or trust business structure with ongoing and varied requirements. It may be necessary to establish whether we’re a good fit for your business before you change accountants (see below).
Unsure of how to approach us? Please contact us to tell us about your business and we’ll explain how best to proceed.
For your convenience, here are some general considerations about the way we work:
Help us to help you:
- Please always give us clear instructions.
- When we request information from you please give it to us in writing via our secure online portal or questionnaire whenever possible.
- Please respond promptly to any requests for information and important questions that may arise.
- If you ever need anything urgently please let us know it is urgent.
- Please let us know if you have changed address or if you are going away for an extended period.
- Feel free to ask us if you are unsure about anything or do not hear from us when you expect to.
- Please let us know if you think we may have misunderstood you.
- Do not hesitate to ask for a progress report if you are concerned about anything.
- If there is ever any work needed that we feel is outside the terms of the engagement (eg: a need to reconcile supplied information or check its accuracy against source documents) we will agree it with you before we start and we will provide you with an estimate of the additional costs.
- We require payment upon completion of a tax return or a consultation, whichever comes first.
- Where an assignment takes more than a month to complete we will invoice each month.
- For some engagements (eg: Company formations, multiple tax returns or substantial accounts preparation), we require a deposit or payment up front before we will start.
We welcome you as a new client and look forward to a productive and mutually rewarding relationship.
If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Changing Accountants – Why and How
A number of reasons may have prompted you to decide it was time for a change.
We often hear the following comments from new clients:
- “My accountant doesn’t understand my business”
- “My accountant doesn’t get back to me for weeks”
- “My accountant is kind of stuck in his ways and wont use online accounting“
- “My accountant takes too long to do my accounts””
- “I only hear from my accountant once a year”
Unfortunately, it’s fairly standard to have this sort of experience with the accounting industry. So we’re always trying to do better and are highly responsive. As specialists for the creative industries, we’re interested in your unique business and genuinely enjoy finding ways to help you succeed.
It’s no easy decision to change accountants, whatever the reason. You may have invested years into the relationship, and your existing accountant is very familiar with your financial affairs. But if you delay your decision, it may just drag out and your results may never improve.
What should you expect from your accountant?
Your accountant should take the time to understand your business and be focused on finding ways to improve your financial outcomes. For example, by:
- Setting up the most appropriate structure for commercial, tax and asset protection purposes.
- Reminding you when your lodgments are due, to keep you compliant.
- Showing you how to understand the numbers so you can stay in control of your business and focus on building profits.
- Recommending and implementing an online accounting system and suggesting apps to save you time.
- Being available to hear your concerns and provide advice when needed, so you know you’re on the right track.
What should you ask a new accountant?
Public accountants greatly vary in their experience, areas of expertise and practice methods.
Some questions you may ask when you’re looking to change accountants are:
- Firstly – Will they recommend an initial consultation to see if your business is a good fit? If so, what information will they need from you?
Note: A free initial consultation is only likely to be offered if your accounting needs are substantial and you contact us directly. For example, for an established company or trust business structure with ongoing requirements; not for an individual tax return. We charge a nominal $110 initial consultation fee for these online bookings, which can offset a future invoice from us. It’s very good value for a business owner to gain insights from our principal, Electra Frost.
Research their website and ask:
- How will the accountant work with you? In person or virtually?
- How does the accountant run their own business? Is it well established?
- What technology does the accountant work with?
- What are their qualifications and professional associations?
- Will the accountant only charge you by the hour or will they agree on a fixed fee for the service to be delivered?
- Does the accountant have experience with your industry?
- What kind of services can the accountant recommend and provide to you?
The three steps to changing accountants:
1. Find a new accountant
Do your research when looking for an alternative accountant. It will be a worthy investment into your future time, money and emotional energy.
Be prepared to ask the right questions and trust your instincts.
2. Tell your existing accountant
Before moving, it’s always best to contact your existing accountant to let them know of your decision. It may be an uncomfortable communication but it’s better coming from you rather than the new accountant.
A kindly worded email will usually do. You could just let them know that your needs have changed at this stage in your business, and you’ve found another accountant who offers what you need.
3. Your new accountant will write to your previous accountant
Once you’ve given the go-ahead, it is a professional courtesy in our industry to send an “ethical clearance letter” to your previous accountant. It is usually sent by email nowadays.
Your previous accountant should promptly respond to the letter, and forward any requested documentation (preferably electronically) to the new accountant.
Note: You should arrange collection of any of your physical documents (e.g., your paperwork in folders) from the previous accountant’s office.
This reply and forwarding of information is ethically best practice for all members of the accounting professional bodies with business client engagements.