Accountants are extremely important to the functioning and profitability of your company. As well as managing your business accounts they ensure your business is compliant with the latest tax legislation and runs as tax efficiently as possible. There comes a time when your business or the accountant’s business grows or changes meaning you can be faced with the difficult decision of having to change from one accountant to another.
We’re often approached by prospective clients who are wondering how to change accountants. Many accountants will tell you that switching from one to another is a time consuming and expensive process. However, it is a process which can be carried out fairly easily. Read on to find out how to change accountants.
Reasons for changing accountants
There are a number of reasons you might be thinking about changing accountants. The most common reason we are given from prospective clients who are looking to change accountant is that their business has grown or changed and their current accountant cannot cater to the needs of the business. Other possible reasons for wanting to change your accountant include:
- A declining or poor level of service where for example, your accountant isn’t being proactive in encountering new tax-saving opportunities.
- You have received poor advice from your accountant resulting in issues with the HMRC.
- The fees being charged by your current accountant are unacceptable and they are unable to handle urgent matters.
- Your accountant is about to retire and you’re looking for a fresh, new start.
What to consider before switching accountants
You shouldn’t rush into the process of changing accountants and you have to consider when is the best time for the handover to take place between your current and prospective accountant. Try to plan to carry out this switch when there is as little activity as possible and avoid at all costs changing accountants at the end of your financial year.
Take the time to also ensure all your financial responsibilities have been taken care of. Loose ends such as disputes over unpaid fees often cause delays and disruptions to the smooth transfer from one accountant to the other. You should also double check the details of the agreement with your current accountant to see if there are any circumstances which could affect changing to a new accountant.
5 simple steps to switching accountants
1. Changing accountants letter
You will first need to write an accountant termination letter advising your current accountant that you will be switching to another firm and for them to provide any information requested by the new accountants. Within this letter, you should also confirm if there is any expectation for finalised work such as completing the financial year-end accounts.
2. Registering with a new accountant
Your new accountant will send a form for you to complete your registration with them which will include your personal, as well as company information. According to UK law, your new accountant will carry out anti-money laundering checks on you, so you will have to provide a scan of your passport or driving license as well as a recent utility bill.
3. Sign a new 64-8 form for your new accountant
By signing a new 64-8 form you will authorise the new accountant to deal with the HMRC for your personal and company tax affairs. Alternatively, you can use the HMRC’s online authorisation service to complete this step of the handing over process.
4. Read through the Letter of Engagement
If the new accountant is registered with a professional entity such as the ICAEW, they are obliged to send through a ‘Letter of Engagement’. Make sure to read through it carefully as it sets out the expectations and requirements between you and the new accountant.
5. Letter requesting Professional Clearance
Your new accountant will write to your previous one requesting what is known as professional clearance. This explains to your previous accountant that you have contacted the new accountant to represent you and if there are any professional reasons as to why they should not accept the appointment. The letter requesting documents from the previous accountant will include a request for any copies of accounts, tax records, tax returns and any other information they may need.
Just a few weeks later, all your accounting information should have been safely transferred to your new accountant. If there is any outstanding work to be completed to bring your accounts up to date, you may have to negotiate this fee with your new accountant.
Finding the right accountant for you
If you’re ready to make the switch, take a look at these 10 questions to ask before hiring an accountant. These important questions will help you make the right choice for you and your business.
Our accountants in Salford (Media City) and Manchester City Centre can provide you with expert tax advice and services, wherever you are in the UK. They’re experienced in many different areas of accounting, from bookkeeping and tax advice to family business and entrepreneur accounting.
You can call our team on 0161 832 4841, or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch shortly.