It’s something few business owners feel like doing, switching accountants. Even in cases where the customer is totally dissatisfied with the service, the customer stays where they are. A shame, because switching accountants in almost all cases provides many benefits.
Unfortunately, the accounting market is hard to compare, which makes it difficult to make an informed choice. In this article, we will try to help you further along the way.
First, ask yourself, what do I expect from my advisor?
Why do you have an advisor, and what is most important to you? If you want to pay as little as possible, send around annual quotes requesting a fixed total price. This way you have certainty in advance & can easily choose the lowest price. However, this will only result in short-term gain, and ensures that you will never have a sparring partner who knows you and your business inside out. Therein lies precisely the consultant’s greatest added value!
Do you have a small business and are looking for a proactive sparring partner who will also assist you with your tax matters? Then a small accounting or administrative firm is often the right place for you. The main reason for this is the shorter lines and entrepreneurial freedom of the consultant.
When should I join an accounting firm, and when does a regular accounting firm suffice?
First, determine which category your business falls into:
Table : Size criteria of your enterprise, Source: Chamber of Commerce
€350,000 – 6 mln
€ 6 mln – 20 mln
> €20 mln
€700,000 – 12 mln
€ 12 mln – 40 mln
> €40 mln
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
Does your business belong to the micro or small category? If so, you do not legally need an accounting firm. If your business is toward the upper limit of the small category, however, you would be wise to join an accounting firm. For some businesses in the micro or small category, it may be wise to still be affiliated with an accounting firm.
What exactly is the crux of this trade-off?
As a company grows larger, there are also more aspects that come into contact with laws and regulations. The larger the company, the more complex it becomes to apply these regulations. In addition, the (financial) stakes are more extensive. If you own a medium or large business, you need the specialized knowledge of an accounting firm.
Do you have a business in the micro or small category? Then you often use only a fraction of that specialized knowledge. Yet you pay into this on an ongoing basis without using it. We think this is a shame. Therefore, if no specifics apply to your business, and the records are fairly straightforward, it is best to choose an accounting and tax consulting firm.
There are so many offices, which one should I choose?
The big names may already be familiar to you, but which firm fits which business?
The BIG 5 firms (Ernst & Young, PWC, Deloitte, KPMG, BDO)
Intended for medium to large enterprises
These offices are particularly intended for auditing companies that operate at the international level. The quality is fantastic but as a small business owner (i.e. < 10 employees < 1 million sales, < 2 million assets) you have no business here. If you do want to join this then you will pay about 3x as much as normal & receive much more quality than you really need.
Medium top 20 (including Alfa Accountants, Jong & Laan Grant Thornton, Countus, MTH, Flynth, Accon AVM, Baker Tilly Berk, Mazars).
Intended for medium to large companies and companies in the upper end of small
These offices are also suitable for control companies and/or companies located near upper limit of “Small” category. Because all the necessary specialized knowledge is organized in-house, they can basically assemble perfect teams for whatever your company needs.
The reason why an enterprise in the micro or small category is less suitable for these offices is because the service level cannot be perfectly tailored to the requirements of the more flexible entrepreneur. These offices often must comply with strict compliance rules, making work less efficient. As a result, as a business owner, you will soon be paying thousands of dollars more, without adding any value. Therefore, an entrepreneur in the micro or small category is the best fit for an office outside this category.
Accounting and administration firms not covered by BIG 5 / Medium 20
These firms are better able to provide customized services for your business if it is in the micro or small category. This is mainly because these firms can work more flexibly than the somewhat larger accounting firms. Because the lines are shorter, engagement is often higher as well.
In addition, these offices have the freedom of not having to bill through every minute, and contact remains low key. This gives you the entrepreneurial freedom to ask plenty of questions, and your wishes are better heard. This almost always results in the best custom solution for your business.
In all cases, it is wise to invite several firms to an introductory meeting. Therefore, do not necessarily be guided by the cheapest offer, but rather by the trust the potential advisor has instilled in you. Are you convinced that this person has your company’s best interests at heart? Then you have the best one to hand!