Ghosts and monsters aren’t the only things that can give you a scare, sometimes it’s the fear of change, but looking at how to switch Contractor Accountants doesn’t need to be.
If you aren’t happy with your current accountant, it might be time to switch, but how simple is it to switch contractor accountants, and will it affect your finances?
Sometimes, you realise that your accountant just isn’t fit for purpose. Maybe they’re not providing you with the level of transparency over your finances that you’d like, they’re don’t specialise in contractors and freelancers or perhaps they’re not helping you out with more niche problems like dealing with IR35 reviews. Whatever the reason, it’s time to switch accountants, and choose a company that is used to specialist accounting and regulated or affiliated with a professional body.
Of course, changing accountant is always going to be more complicated than changing a tyre, but that doesn’t mean it has to be incredibly complex. You can find that the whole thing can take as little as 24 hours if everything is properly planned out, especially if you choose the right accountant to switch to.
At Brookson, we will take care of the whole switching process for you, talking to your old accountant and getting everything sorted out so you can focus on your paid work. You can find out more here. However, before you switch there are some things you should bear in mind:
Choosing the right time to switch Contractor Accountants
First and foremost, you need to make sure you change contractor accountants at the right time. Unless there is some desperate urgency to get away from your current provider, you will usually be able to wait at least a week or two before starting the switch, which might be essential to ensure a smooth transition.
For example, changing to a new accountant right while your current one is in the middle of completing your tax return is almost certainly a bad idea. Ideally, you will make the switch during a period where you’re not expecting any work from your accountant, and they aren’t expecting any payment from you. This will help make the break from them as clean as possible and ensure a little extra peace of mind.
Check your contract
Before you change contractor accountants, you need to have a read over your contract with your current provider. It’s not common, but sometimes there might be loopholes or provisions in their terms and conditions that would prevent you from making the switch. You might need to provide them with three months’ notice, for example.
Then there are more obvious issues that you might have missed. You might have signed on for a fixed period to ensure fixed fees for example, and changing would mean you have to pay for the time remaining or other hidden fees; or have to stick with an accountant who knows you want to switch for the remainder of your contract, which would not be ideal.
Finalise all your payments
Perhaps the most important step in this process is this: make sure you’ve completed all your payments to your accountant. One of the most common disputes between accountants and their previous clients is that of payment issues, usually with the accountant believing they have provided a service for which they have not been paid fully.
You should be keeping all your receipts anyway, so this will hopefully be easy to resolve. Failing this, your bank statement should be enough to prove that you have paid your accountant what they are owed. Of course, first you need to make sure you’ve actually paid them in full; you might have missed a month, for example, and they agreed to let you pay it at a later point.
Write to your current accountant
Finally, you need to provide your accountant with formal, written notice that you are planning to leave them. Most of the time an email will do, but some accountants will require a physical letter instead.
This notice should set out in clear terms exactly what is going to happen. Say that you would like to terminate your contract with them and which accounting firm you will be moving your limited company to. This is also an opportunity to lay out what you will need, even if it’s as simple as saying: “I will need you to provide my new accountant with any information they request.”
If you complete all of these steps, you’ll be in the right position to switch to a new accountant and get back to running your business. Make sure you have one lined up already, and you know they’re able to take you on, then make the change.