When you ask someone you are meeting for the first time what he/she does for a living and he tells you that he is an accountant, what images go through your mind? Ok don’t answer that! We know that a lot of the time you are probably thinking tax, accounting, compliance – that sort of thing. Boring stuff.
Your accountant probably does a reasonable job of saving you some tax, so you are happy. But should you be? After all, your accountant may well be the external advisor best placed to really understand you and your farming business and therefore able to offer you critical advice that could impact your life and the lives of your family dramatically.
So here are six questions to ask your accountant when you next meet up.
The Six Questions
- So, when are you coming out to the farm? If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more valuable is a visit to the farm?
- Other than the boring stuff, what else can you do for me? For example, my daughter-in-law has been on at me about schooling for the grandchildren. How am I going to deal with that one fairly?
- How is all this new accounting and reporting technology going to benefit me? The “cloud’ sounds very slick, but neither my wife nor I ever signed up to be accountants. Isn’t that your job?
- Can I negotiate a fixed fee in advance? It would be good to know this particular “input” cost at the beginning of the season.
- How do I know that I am getting value for money from you? Have you ever explained the basis for your charges? Are you just letting the clock tick and charging for your time?
- Really, how important am I to you? Whilst I understand that an accountant has to maintain a certain objectivity to be able to deliver professional advice, because my farming business is so personal, I need to be able to deal with an accountant who is as invested in my lifestyle as I am. I need a trusted advisor.
The Trusted Advisor
Think about it. Everything you do in your farming business is personal to you and your family – like no other business can be. Your home, your livelihood, your blood sweat and tears and your pride and joy. More than a home, it’s the seat of your family, the place which generations of family members – whether they still live on the farm or not – regard as their spiritual home. And always will.
Which is why you need to be comfortable with your professional accountant. You still conduct some business on the basis of a handshake because you can weigh up a person when you look him in the eye. Can you do this with your accountant?
Is he your trusted advisor?