How to choose a contractor accountant

Selecting a Contractor Accountant?

So you’ve decided to make the leap into the exciting world of contracting, and now you need to get your business up and running.  

You'll need to set up your limited company, register for VAT and open a business bank account, so you can be paid for your contracting work, and that means it’s time to choose an accountant.

A good accountant will be able to help you breeze through the setup process and offer advice on:

  • Incorporating your company
  • Share structure
  • Opening a bank account
  • Choosing an insurance provider
  • IR35 status and finding a company to check your contract

Your accountant should also be able to answer any questions you may have about running your company and paying yourself.

Below you'll find our guide which will answer some of the questions you might want to ask and explain what you should be looking out for. If you do have any questions about going limited please call our friendly accountants on 01296 468 197 or email accountancy@orangegenie.com.

Do I need a specialist contractor accountant? 

You may think "isn’t an accountant an accountant?" but accountants have their specialisms, and as a contractor, you’ll need a contractor specialist.

If your accountant is an expert in the contractor market they’ll be able to advise you on the latest legislation which could affect contractors and make sure you remain fully compliant with HMRC returns and deadlines. The last thing you want is a late filing penalty from HMRC.

How important is the personal touch?

Your accountant can only give you best advice if they have a real understanding of you, your circumstances and your aspirations. Your personal relationship with your accountant is not just a nice thing to have – it provides them with the vital insight they need to advise you properly.

The last thing you want to do is be put in contact with a different person every time you call. The valuable time you spend having to explain who you are could be spent on developing your business, and the advice you get will be generic rather than tailored to your goals. Make sure you have a dedicated accountant and support team to look after your business, this way you shouldn’t need to repeat information, communication will be much swifter and the advice you get will be high quality and tailored to you.

Ultimately the best way to choose your accountant is to ensure a connection between you and your advisor. Talk, talk and talk again to the accountant you are thinking of appointing. You will soon know if you can work together and if you can trust them to provide you with the service you deserve.

Will my accountant meet me face to face?

Many contactor accountants offer free face to face meetings with their clients. Not all meetings are equal though, so ensure that your accountant will come to meet you at a location of your choice, at a time you choose. Also check that you are not restricted to one free meeting over the course of your relationship with your accountant.

Should I use an online accountant?

Pretty quickly after a little research you will find “online accountants” and “traditional accountants”. Many so called online accountants offer no more than access to online accounting software and do not actually have accountants checking the numbers behind the scenes or offering you advice. In this situation, a simple typo on your online software could cost you a heavy fine with HMRC, and you won’t get the specialist, bespoke advice that you need to make your business a success.

What should I look for in accounting software?

We live in a digital era, so why would you want to use a spreadsheet to fill out your accounts? What you need is real time information at your fingertips, so whether you are on the train to work or sitting on a beach in the Bahamas, you can see how much money you could withdraw from your company or you could quickly take a photo of your receipt and upload it for your accountant to see.

Your accountant should offer software that has been designed specifically with contractors and freelancers in mind, we suggest you make sure the software includes:

  • Easy uploading of bank transactions either via an overnight feed or the download of a file from your bank. The software should then allow you to categorise the transactions with ease.
  • Simple to enter expenses, via your phone, tablet or PC. You never have to lose a receipt again as they can be captured instantly.
  • Facilities to set recurring expenses and mileage records, saving time and trouble.
  • A time sheet and invoicing function that allows you to invoice and email your clients from within the system.
  • Access to a detailed Overview screen that clearly sets out a tax timeline of future liabilities and payment dates, any amounts owed to you and a reminder of the company profits and available dividends.

What should be included in accountancy Fees?

You’re likely to see many accountants offering fixed monthly fees, however the headline price is not the full story. Look out for hidden additional fees and check what you’ll get for your money.

Costs can add up quickly, so choose an accountant who offers a truly inclusive service for their fixed fees and ask them to set out in writing what their fee includes. If you believe you need additional services ask for a price to be agreed in writing before the work commences so there are no nasty surprises in the future. It is also really important to make sure that you understand any minimum tie in periods and costs. A few questions you might want to ask are:

  • Do formation costs cover registration for various taxes e.g. VAT registration and the opening of a PAYE scheme
  • Is there an additional fee for using the accounting software?
  • Is your tax return included?
  • Are there additional fees for non-contracting income to be included on the tax return?
  • Is there an annual filing fee?
  • Are charges made for rent or mortgage references?
  • Will you be charged for meetings?
  • Is all telephone and email advice included in the fee?
  • Is there a closure fee?

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Is my accountant regulated by any professional bodies?

Ask your accountant if they are regulated by any bodies. This means they are audited by an independent body such as the FCSA or Professional Passport to ensure compliance and best practice.

For example, a regulator’s audit would pick up if the advice provided is to your benefit, or simply generates more profit for the accountant. Orange Genie Accountancy are regulated by both FCSA and Professional Passport.

If you would like some advice on how Genie Accountancy can help you with setting up your limited company and the services we could offer you, please call us on 01296 468 185 or email accountancy@orangegenie.com. 

 

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Why Orange Genie Accountancy?

Orange Genie Accountancy offers fixed fee accountancy packages to contractors and freelancers. Each client has unlimited access to their own dedicated approachable and friendly accountant. All Orange Genie Accountancy accountants are specialists in the contracting market, so they can give you bespoke, high quality advice.

We will always keep you informed about anything that could affect you and your company. Our relationships with our clients are extremely important to us so we'll be in touch often, whether it be face to face, over the telephone or email.

Our packages start at £75 + VAT a month for an online service. Our most popular package is £120 + VAT a month which provides you with your very own dedicated accountant as well as:

  • Unlimited accountancy support
  • Face to face meetings so we can get to know you and understand your contracting goals
  • Proactive contact
  • Director and employee payroll
  • Annual Return
  • Self-Assessment Return
  • A fully compliant service so you are safe in the knowledge that you are meeting your legal obligations
  • Access to the Freeagent Software, which is updated in real time so you can always see how your business finances are looking

​And much more, includingaccess to wealth management advice, IR35 reviews and pensions planning. 

If you would like to appoint Orange Genie Accountancy as your accountants please either fill out our enquiry form or give one of our friendly expert accountants a call on 01296 468 185 or email accountancy@orangegenie.com

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