Seven Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing A Bookkeeper
I will often go and have an initial chat with someone who has contacted me about bookkeeping. I have learnt over the last few years which questions to ask in order to get a feel for the client’s needs and whether I am a good fit for them. But are there also questions I recommend a potential new client should ask me.
- What qualifications do you have? Check their website…
Bookkeeping isn’t regulated in the UK, however to ensure a level of quality look for someone who has completed a bookkeeping qualification. There are a number of routes which a professional bookkeeper may have taken. A Diploma with the Association of Accounts Technicians or International Association of Bookkeepers. As a member of either of these associations a bookkeeper will have passed several exams covering a number of topics. They will be bound by ethical practices and have insurance.
- What experience and skills do you have?
Its often useful for a bookkeeper to have experience in the industry a new client works in. Industries differ in how they operate ie construction industry and CIS. It’s not essential but it helps
We all have to start somewhere of course but find out how long the bookkeeper has been practicing, or have they worked in an accountancy practice on different client accounts.
If you are VAT registered, make sure the bookkeeper has experience of the VAT scheme you are using ie flat rate or standard. And that they can submit the details online. And if you are looking for someone to run payroll, again check they have enough experience, and have dealt with the scenario you are taking to them in terms of numbers and frequency of payroll, and if you have employee benefits, have they produced p11ds at year end before?
Just get a general feel that they sound confident about the type of work you need doing!
- Do you charge a flat rate or hourly rate?
Really important to understand how they charge. It’s hard to estimate how long a piece of work will take, but I like to make clear how I charge my time. If a client has a budget I’ll work to that let them know what they can expect.
- Do you work onsite and offsite?
Depending on your needs check they will come to your premises, some bookkeepers may only work from home, or their own office, others will be happy to travel to you, and check if they will charge mileage?
- What bookkeeping software are you familiar with?
If you have an established business you may already have your accounts systems in place, and the software, so find out can they use that software. Perhaps be open to changing the software you are currently using.
- Do you have enough time for me?
Check they have the capacity to fulfil the role, it’s no good if you need them a day a week and they don’t have the time!
- Will you provide me with a letter of engagement?
A good business relationship should of course have a degree of trust, however I always insist on a Letter of Engagement so find out if the bookkeeper will provide that. This will set out what you can expect from the bookkeeper in terms of the work they will be carrying out for you, and what they will need from you as a client in order to complete the work.
- What other services can you offer or are you part of a larger team?
You may be happy just having a bookkeeper but if you are likely to need other services it’s worth being aware of what other services your bookkeeping firm can offer.
- Finally one question to ask yourself…
If you are happy with the answers you are given then you have a good idea that the bookkeeper will do a good job for you. After that it’s down to personality, and you need to ask yourself, do you have a a good feeling about working with this bookkeeper?