When selecting or evaluating an accounting firm, one factor you need to consider is whether or not the firm is a member of a recognised professional accounting organisation. This is an important factor as the title ‘accountant’ is not regulated in Australia. In other words, anyone can call themselves an accountant even if they don’t have the educational and professional qualifications.
The three principal and most widely recognised professional accounting
organisations in Australia are:
→ The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
→ CPA Australia
→ IPA (Institute of Public Accountants).
These three organisations adopt a strict code of conduct and require
their members to:
→ Hold an approved undergraduate university degree;
→ Have completed a comprehensive postgraduate professional study program;
→ Complete a minimum of three years supervised experience;
→ Complete a public practice program and hold a current practising certificate;
→ Undertake extensive continuing professional development each year;
→ Have a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance
depending on the size of the firm and the type of work that it
→ Adhere to a strict code of ethical standards; and
→ Have their practice reviewed every five years or so to ensure that
standards of quality are maintained.
You should also ask to see that the firm has adequate professional indemnity insurance.
2: Finding the right accountant for you and your business
The task of finding a suitable accountant for your business shouldn’t be taken lightly. As the accountant is usually involved in every aspect of your business and to some extent your private life, you need to have an accountant who you can relate to both professionally and on a personal level.
You also need to feel that the accountant will have a genuine concern for your business and its success. There’s no reason why you should be loyal to your existing accountant, particularly if the firm isn’t performing. Changing accountants is a relatively simple procedure and shouldn’t cause any disruption to your business.
3. How to choose?
The best thing to do is to start by selecting about three firms who you feel might be suitable. You can do this by asking for a recommendation from a business colleague, KBN is a good place to start.
You should then contact each firm to make an appointment and take along a list of the questions that you want answered at the meeting.
Some of the important questions that should to be considered when
selecting or evaluating an accountant are:
→ Is the accountant a member of a recognised professional accounting organisation?
→ Who will be handling your affairs and what are their professional qualifications?
→ Does the accountant have knowledge of your particular industry?
→ Is the accountant able to provide business advice and assist in the financial management of your business?
→ Does the firm provide advice on investments and assistance with business and personal financing?
→ Will the accountant return your calls within a reasonable time?
→ How long will the accountant take to complete your work?
→ How accessible is the partner looking after you? A common
complaint from business owners is that over time, they have less
contact with the partner.
→ Do you feel that the accountant has an extensive knowledge of income tax and GST law and keeps up-to-date?
→ Is the accountant familiar with the accounting software that your business operates?
→ Does the accountant have a newsletter or some form of periodic
communication to inform you of issues that are of interest to your
→ What is the accountant’s hourly rate and the basis upon which fees
are charged? For example, will you be charged for every phone call
and also for travelling time?
It might be a good idea to get confirmation in writing on some of these
matters (particularly with respect to fees) to avoid any disputes in the
Finally, take time to consider your decision and don’t be afraid to consult a friend or business colleague for advice.
To find a small business accountant in Brisbane please contact us