By Ashley Preen
January 7, 2021
An enormous number of accountants and accounting firms operate in London. Sadly, too many people make one of two mistakes when choosing an accountant in London:
But why choose one in London in the first place? In this connected world, it wouldn’t much matter if you went with one in Manchester or Oxford or anywhere else in the UK, right?
Let’s take a look at that:
The simple truth is that your accountant needs to be more than just a “number cruncher”. Of course, it’s possible to never meet your accountant in person. Video-conferencing tools obviate the need for in-person meetings.
But, according to a study by Forbes, 85 per cent of people believe that meeting face-to-face in-person builds stronger and more meaningful business relationships.
We are so accustomed to watching movies and faces on screens, that looking at someone on a computer screen could, on some level, lead us to view that person as somewhat less “real” than someone standing in front of us.
The second-most popular reason for people preferring face-to-face meetings, according to that same Forbes study, was the ability to observe body language.
No matter the size of your business, an accountant is invaluable.
Smaller businesses operate on extremely tight margins, and so the slightest error in accounts could lead to catastrophic consequences. Larger companies might have more cash flow, but little errors could result in vast amounts of money lost.
The case for “judging body language” is a strong one when choosing an accountancy firm to handle your books.
There is only so much insight one can get into an area from the internet as compared to actually living and working there.
Even though it is possible to find any accountant anywhere using the internet, if your business is based in London, then ideally you need a London-based accountant.
This is particularly true of choosing an accountant for landlords.
Landlord accounting can be tricky business, and for an accountant to be of use, then that accountant needs to have their finger constantly on the pulse of the rental market, changes in laws and, more importantly, potential changes of regulations which might affect a landlord’s finances.
In many ways, your accountant will make or break your business. Too often, people expect accountants to be miracle workers (we’re not, by the way, but we try our best) who can make taxes disappear with the snap of a finger.
Alas, taxes will never go away no matter how hard you try. Even the best accountants struggle to find ways to legally reduce a company’s taxable footprint.
The difference between an accountant who cares and one who doesn’t is that the one who cares, at least tries to save you a few pounds on your returns.
For an accountant who deals with dozens or maybe even hundreds of clients a month, sometimes the difference between trying a little harder or not is simply the fact that you stopped by once a month to say hi.
The current fad might be work-from-home and heavy marketing to make people do all their meetings online. The truth is that people want to interact, to be close to each other, to socialise. And that face-to-face interaction makes an enormous difference in a business relationship.
Oh, goodness, no!
Let us explain:
Every business has to pay its overheads, and London is indeed the most expensive city in Europe when it comes to renting.
But that should only affect an accountant’s fees if they are doing poorly.
An accountancy firm with fee income from fifty people will have to stretch its costs over those fifty people. A firm with five thousand people pumping money into it every month can charge far less fees per person.
“Ah, but it costs more to deliver to so many people,” I heard you say.
Again, the answer is not entirely black and white. A few years ago, Pearl Accountants was a runner up for the Firm of the Future Award presented by Intuit (the makers of Quickbooks).
Because accounting is such a tight-margin industry, we have long-since invested in state-of-the-art technology and workflows in order to improve our efficiency while at the same time reducing our workload.
An inefficient firm would never be able to handle the load of five thousand clients.
So, that firm which is overcharging its few fifty clients is also unable to serve any more clients without taking on more staff and further increasing its overheads.
If an accountancy firm has invested in efficient tools, it doesn’t need to be more expensive even if it is located in London!
Yes, London is an expensive city to live and work in, but the most successful accounting firms in London are still there because they have figured out a way to offer top-quality service at highly competitive prices.