Outsourcing accounting services can sometimes be a significant and difficult choice. When you choose a Xero accountant to partner with on the financial side of your business, you don’t want it to last just one year, you want it to last for as long as it makes good sense to outsource your accounting, however long that may be.
With cloud accounting apps making it easy to serve a customer from almost any location, the number of Xero accountants available to choose from might seem daunting, and hard to narrow down. So what is an effective way to make this choice?
Let me share with you my perspective, as an accounting firm owner, the three things to look for when comparing accountants, so you can have the best chance at finding a good fit for you and our business. As a Xero accountant myself, I’m obviously interested in a good fit as well.
1. Industry Specialization
With so many Xero accounting firms offering their services to a nationwide audience, the practice of industry specialization has become more popular, which is a great advantage for many entrepreneurs. There are Xero accountant partners that specialize in dentistry, medical, law firms, media, marketing, retail, e-commerce and more. If I were an entrepreneur, I’d make sure to ask what experience they have in my industry, and if needed, ask for a few current clients they could refer me to, so I could speak with them regarding their experience.
2. Service Agreements/Accounting Packages
In my opinion, one thing that sets great accounting firms apart from good ones, is their service agreements. In this case, the devil is in the details. If the service agreement says “we’ll do your bookkeeping for x dollars”, I imagine you wouldn’t have much faith that their services will meet your expectations. If it were me, I’d want to sign an agreement that outlines at least the following:
- quarterly/monthly/weekly/daily accounting procedures
- frequency of reconciliation and reporting
- contact points
- level of support
If the accounting firm has these items detailed out, you can trust that they have understood the needs you have discussed with them, they’ve asked the the right questions, and there is a clear understanding of how your bookkeeping will be done. However, if the agreement is vague, you run the risk of signing up for something that does not meet your expectations, and a rough relationship with the accountant in the near future.
3. Match your Goals with the Xero Accountants Goals
In a job interview process, this could also be called “the right fit”.
When I’m on the phone with a prospective client, I can tell whether it’s a good, okay, or a bad fit within the first 10 minutes. Some people call asking about how much a package will cost, but don’t appear interested in much else. Some call with a desire to establish a long term relationship. Others call with the attitude of setting up a partnership, if it’s the right fit for their firm. They understand that a partnership can help both of our companies flourish, and that attitude is what leads to long successful relationships. These are the kind of customers I want to please and provide excellent services for.
On the flip side, as a customer looking for an accounting firm, the same things apply. I would assess exactly what you want out of the relationship and find a firm that “fits”. If you are strapped for funds and you are price sensitive, find a firm with a low cost that caters to your specific market. If you are looking for a long term relationship with a firm that can grow with you through several stages, then find a firm that specializes in that.
Whatever the goals for your business may be, make sure the accounting firm you choose aligns with them.
With accounting firms able to offer services to anyone remotely, make sure to compare different accountants using these three criteria:
- Industry Specialization
- Service Agreements/Accounting Packages
- Your Goals vs. Accountant’s Goals
Comparing Xero accountants using the above criteria will have you well on your way to finding an accounting firm that will be a great fit, as well as a great partner for your business.