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Hiring an accountant for your small business: what you should know 

6 mins read
by Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Last updated Thursday, April 25, 2024

Whether you’re building or expanding your business or even preparing for the next tax deadline, an accountant can offer vital support. 

An accountant helps you meet your tax obligations on a personal level, for your business or both. 

They can also ensure you take advantage of any tax allowances or reliefs, so you don’t pay more tax than you need to. 

This article will explore why you should consider hiring an accountant, what they do, their qualifications and their fees.  


  • An accountant can help with various tasks, including addressing personal or business tax obligations, saving money on your tax bill and planning for future growth.

  • When considering an accountant, you should look at their qualifications and experience to make sure they’re the right fit for you, as well as understand the fees they charge.

  • Unbiased can quickly connect you with a qualified accountant. 

Why should you hire an accountant? 

An account can ensure your business complies with its tax and reporting obligations via annual tax returns and flag any allowances or reliefs that could save you money. 

They can also save you time and help you grow your business by managing your cash flow, cutting costs, and assisting with financial planning and your future growth plans. 

An accountant can offer vital guidance and may be able to flag potential issues early so they can be addressed swiftly.  

On a personal level, they can ensure you file your tax return accurately and on time. You can be fined for missing deadlines, so mistakes and delays can be costly.  

What does an accountant do? 

An accountant can help with more than offering business advice, including: 

  • Assisting with tax and VAT returns and using your allowances and reliefs, ensuring you keep accurate financial records, and your accounts are in order.  

  • Planning your business strategy by setting goals and tracking progress, as well as troubleshooting issues and coming up with solutions. 

  • Establishing a budget, payroll and ways to make your business more efficient.  

  • Managing cash flow and stock management. 

  • Managing debt by finding ways to borrow, assisting with loan and funding applications and invoicing. 

  • Setting up software to help automate tedious business processes. 

  • Helping you launch your business by creating a business plan, flagging costs and creating reliable financial forecasts. 

  • Taking care of the regulatory requirements for your business and assisting with audits. 

  • Helping to sell your business or acquire another one. 

An accountant can offer valuable tax advice and support even if you don't have a business, including filling out your self-assessment tax form or helping with general tax planning. 

What qualifications should an accountant have? 

An accountant doesn’t need specific qualifications, but they may have studied via the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or have a degree and/or years of experience. 

They must follow the Financial Reporting Council’s corporate governance and stewardship codes. 

You may have heard of a chartered accountant and wondered how it differs from an accountant. 

To become a chartered accountant, an individual must pass many exams, have between three and five years of work experience, and follow a code of ethics. 

They can be members of an organisation such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).  

They must also have professional indemnity insurance.  

Professional indemnity insurance helps protect both you and the chartered accountant if any accidental errors happen.  

Before choosing an accountant, check their qualifications, experience, and areas of expertise to make sure you get the best support.  

So, for example, checking that your accountant specialises or has experience in your business sector is vital as they can more easily identify potential issues and offer solutions.  

You can also ask trusted friends or family for recommendations and look them up via Unbiased's directory.

It is worthwhile to have a local accountant, as they may know more about the local economy and potential challenges.  

What fees will my accountant charge? 

Accountant fees can vary hugely, depending on if it’s for your personal tax needs or your business. 

For example, it could cost you between £200 and £300 to help with your self-assessment tax return, depending on how complex your finances are. 

If you’re using an accountant for your business, you can expect to pay between £60 and £450 a month, depending on the size of your company.  

You can opt for one-off accountancy support, but this will cost between £25 and £150 an hour, depending on your needs, with more specialist services incurring a premium.  

Other services, such as payroll, can be hundreds of pounds a month as it’s impacted by how many employees you have.  

How to prepare for your first meeting with your accountant 

You should have an initial meeting with an accountant you’re considering before deciding. 

Here’s what you should discuss in your initial meeting: 

  • What do you need support with? It’s worth understanding what you need help with, such as tax obligations and accounts, regulations, audits or business growth. You can then ask the accountant if they can help, what the expected timelines are, and the best ways to communicate regularly on goals and progress. 

  • How much will I have to pay for accountancy support? As we outlined, accountancy fees can vary, so outline what you need and ask how much this will cost, as well as payment dates.  

  • Will you offer ongoing support, and how do I flag any concerns? You should be happy with the level of support offered and be confident you can easily raise concerns that your accountant can troubleshoot.

  • What if my business needs change in the future? As your business grows, so will your accountancy needs. It’s worth asking how the process works if you need more support. 

  • What information do you need? Asking your accountant what information or documents they require can streamline the process and help you get support quickly.  

Can I switch accountants if I’m unhappy? 

There are many reasons why things might not be working out with your accountant, whether it’s poor communication, high fees, or they lack the specialist knowledge you need. 

If you’re planning on switching, you’ll need to let your accountant know – you don’t need to give a reason, and it’s best to be polite and thank them for all their hard work. 

To switch, you’ll need a disengagement letter from your current accountant for your new one to explain the work done so far. 

Your new accountant will ask for information about your tax affairs, including relevant documents, and will ask if there’s a reason they cannot accept you as a new client.  

After this is completed, you need to give the new accountant permission to deal with HMRC on your behalf, which you can do here.  

Looking for an accountant? 

Unbiased can quickly connect you with a qualified accountant who can help you save time and money.  

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Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.