“A good accountant will always save you more money than they cost” – Why choosing the right accountant is essential & why I chose mine.
This article surrounding how to find a good accountant for locum pharmacists was written by Nicholas Colwyn Parry, a locum pharmacist working across the UK, and a subscriber to the My Locum Choice Software.
Do you struggle to find time to write out correct invoices? Do you have the knowledge to claim expenses correctly? Do you know what dates taxes including national insurance have to be paid? Can you ensure you are operating your company in the most tax efficient way? Do you understand the enigma that is HMRC? If the answer to any of these questions is no then you probably want to get yourself an accountant.
Now wouldn’t it be handy if someone told you how to find yourself a good accountant and what to look out for? Perhaps they would even tell you a good accountant? Well look no further as this blog will tell you the right way of finding your next accountant.
I will be referencing Foremans LLP because they are my accountant, I am not paid by them, nor am I endorsed by them. All the views and references are specific to me, everyone’s tax situation is different which is why I will refrain from talking about sensitive information that could be misinterpreted. Although Foremans if you’re reading this, I’d love a free month or 2…
Why do you need an accountant as a locum?
It’s no secret that a pharmacist knows quite a lot about drugs, or an optician is an expert in eyes, so when it comes to accounts why wouldn’t you go to the experts in finance? Your accountant should be specific to you and your needs, they should have a good knowledge in your field of expertise and they should be recommended from someone in the same line of work as you. There isn’t much point in asking a property-based accountant for the best tax efficient advice on how to be a locum pharmacist. I got lucky with my accountant, more importantly I got lucky with my advisor.
When I was trying to choose an accountant covid was just kicking off, many were furloughed, many didn’t want to speak to me, and even the accountant in my village said he didn’t have time for my (small) accounts. I asked a few friends who they used and a lot of them either self-accounted, didn’t give me a referral, or when I rang the referral, they just didn’t give me a good vibe. With someone I was about to trust my personal and business accounts with I had to feel comfortable in speaking to them.
How do you find a good accountant for locum pharmacists?
Enter Ian, Ian Broomhall is arguably the best advisor I have ever spoken to. Don’t get me wrong everyone else down at Foremans is amazing as I know the team support each other, but I like to build a rapport and Ian has allowed me to do just that! Ian has advised me on my taxes and helped me to build my business from a mere self-assessment to a fully functioning LTD company. One of his first sentences was – “A good accountant will always save you more money than they cost” and he proves that to me every time I speak to him with his sound advice. Ian is a true catalyst to my success, and has aided me every week on this journey. In fact, within a week of having Foremans LLP as my accountant they showed me 2 things I wasn’t claiming for, which instantly paid for themselves.
Ian and I have a strange relationship, for the last 18 months we have been in constant communication, he has advised me around some of the largest moves my business has had to make, we probably ring each other once a week, he has a Labrador called Max and he knows I have a passion for surfing. However, I couldn’t tell you what this man looks like! We could have passed in the street and we would never know. This is mainly due to covid and the fact I work in the South West and when I’m home of a weekend the office is closed.
What traits should you look for in an accountant?
What makes Foremans so special is because of people like Ian and the rest of the team. Foremans has well over a decade of experience, they have a huge expertise in a wide variety of roles, but a particular insight for locums. They have also worked closely with Locate a Locum for a number of years giving them that leading edge when it comes to advice around my primary business interest.
For me the greatest quality Foremans have, and one of the main traits you should look for in your next accountant, is their swift and constant communication. When someone says they aren’t happy with the service they are currently receiving, I often ask them “how often do you speak to your accountant?”. If they reply with “maybe once or twice a year” then how can you judge your service from them when you barely speak? Besides, if you pay them just to do one annual self-assessment and expect unlimited annual service you are most likely not going to get it.
How much does it cost to have an accountant?
Most accountants range for your annual assessment from £400-800 but I pay a monthly subscription to Foremans for the services I get from them, it works out as around £180 a month. This sounds like a lot, but for that I get complete support for how I should manage my accounts including all invoices raised and sent to my clients, payslips, annual assessment, VAT stuff sorted, payment dates to HMRC, unlimited advice, secure online portal to submit sensitive information, tax efficiency tips, formatted spreadsheets, data storage, easy to understand full explanations around HMRC laws and that’s just what I use them for. They even offer a cash transfer service if you link an RBS business account to them so you always keep back the right amount of tax. For me I pay for service because I know they have gone the extra mile. Sure, I could spend my own time doing all these things or I could just pay someone to do it. Accounting with them has never been easier, but most importantly it saves me something more valuable than money, it saves me time.
What frequency of service should I choose?
If you think you are capable at carrying out all the aforementioned tasks then most accountants will happily just do an annual service for you, if this is your situation you should go with one you feel most comfortable with!
How do I know if an accountant is right for me?
Finance is a very sensitive subject, which is why you should always go with a personal recommendation rather than a public one. You will always see a bad public review for an accountant for this reason as some people don’t like being told they have to pay tax. The majority of these people will not be looking to grow their business, they want an accountant who will just tell them a dodgy way of keeping all their money. In truth this does not happen, you can be tax efficient and legal, but hiding all your money through some scheme is not clever and if serious enough, i.e. considered tax evasion, it can leave you at risk of going to prison. Remember your accountant is there to carry out the work you instruct them to do while they advise you. I cannot stress this enough, these are YOUR accounts, so YOU still have the responsibility to go over them.
Make sure you feel comfortable with your choice
I will hands down admit I’m not the best client, sometimes it takes 3-4 business days to get a reply from me and I barely answer my phone (mainly because I’m in work) but I never feel pressured by my accountant. I’d love to say this is mutual and happens both ways but it isn’t, Foremans answer almost all of my queries on the day or by the end of the week. I feel they have a respect for the fact I can’t always be on hand to answer my phone, and they always do their best to get back to me as soon as they can.
Overall, as long as you find an accountant with a special interest in your field of work, they come highly recommended, they are reasonably priced for the service they give, they are approachable and make time for you, you can’t go too far wrong. I probably know more than most when it comes to tax, but I’m far from being an expert. I feel safe with Foremans as they always explain why I can or can’t do something in laymen’s terms, and that’s another reason why I’ll keep my accounts with them.