Before we launched Ashton McGill in 2017, we did a tonne of user research. Over 4 months, we had over 100 conversations, and one of the most common questions we encountered from our interviewees was “how difficult is it to switch accountants?”
As we explored this, we found that many business owners believed moving accountants was difficult and would cause a great deal of upheaval. Many simply chose to remain with an accountant that they openly told us wasn’t delivering what they wanted or needed. It was just ‘too much hassle to move‘.
There was also a misguided sense of loyalty. The most common phrase we heard in these interviews was ‘my accountant’s a lovely guy, but…..‘, and then they would go on to explain all the things they weren’t doing.
But we believe you shouldn’t have to settle. Accepting something sub-standard, which doesn’t meet your most basic expectations, simply isn’t good enough.
So, is it difficult to switch accountants?
No! And it never should be. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is make the decision to move and once you’ve done that, the rest is pretty straightforward.
So, what’s the process?
If your new accountant is a modern, forward-thinking business, then they’ll have sent you an electronic proposal (we use GoProposal here at AM), which you simply need to digitally sign.
That automatically triggers a number of events:
- You’ll be sent an electronic copy of the Letter of Engagement within seconds of signing (pretty cool, huh?);
- Your new accountant will also receive a copy at the same time. This allows them to begin their on boarding process;
- Everyone’s on boarding process will be a little different, but all will involve:
- Asking you to let them know once you’ve told your old accountant you’re moving.
- They’ll then write to them, requesting what’s called ‘Professional Clearance’ and asking them for copies of the past two years accounts, tax returns, working papers, payroll, pensions, vat records etc. They are obliged to provide your new accountant with that information.
- If you’re using an online accounting system provided by them, like Xero, your new accountant will ask them to transfer ownership of the licence.
- You’ll be asked you to provide proof of your ID and address – this is a requirement of Anti-Money Laundering legislation.
- You’ll be sent a link to sign up for monthly payments via GoCardless or similar
- Your new accountant will need to apply to HMRC to become your new ‘Agent’. This allows them to communicate directly with HMRC on your behalf. It’s a clunky process that requires HMRC to send you a separate letter for each tax (Corporation Tax, Vat, PAYE etc.) with an authorisation code, that you then need to pass on to your new accountant.
Then it’s a case of your new accountant connecting everything together so that they can start supporting you.
There might be some early teething problems, as accountants often don’t use the same systems. But a customer-focused, modern accountant will work hard to get everything working as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Much of this work goes on behind the scenes, so you really shouldn’t notice it.
Now you can focus on your business and you’ll have an accountant who’s not only a nice guy / girl, but who’s also got your back and is looking out for your business. Supporting you in the way you need, in a language you understand.
Switching accountants doesn’t have to be complicated!