How to find the best small business accountants

Successful entrepreneurs know how to use the talents of others, including accountants, to help them succeed.

Business accounting concepts and their applications to businesses are highly relevant to entrepreneurs and business leaders as their solid foundations can help to improve decisions and positively impact future growth. This is why as a business owner, you need a good accountant working with you at various stages throughout the business life cycle: start-up, growth, maturity and exit.

At Berley, we are specialist ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) chartered accountants in London and we have been using our financial expertise and solid experience to help small business owners. If you’re thinking of hiring an accountant for your small business – you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will share with you how to find the best small business accountants and how to get the most out of them.

Do you need an accountant?

You may have just launched your business and with limited resources, it is easy to look at accountancy as some sort of extra or a bonus service and you may even look to do the books yourself. While the approach sounds logical, there are good reasons why smart entrepreneurs do engage their accountants and incorporate accountancy into their company right from the start.

A good accountant is more than just a number cruncher and tax filer, they are fully qualified professionals ready to advise you on your company’s legal structure (which will determine how you pay tax and protect your assets), work with you on your business plan (one that can also help you to raise the necessary capital), and reign in financial control early on. The idea is simple – if you get the benefit of your accountant’s financial knowledge and advice right from the start, you are likely to save more time, money and effort when compared with hiring one later.

Five signs that you need to hire an accountant now

1. When you’re ready to launch a business

Accountants can provide valuable advice and help you with the administrative components associated with starting a business. This can include deciding on a business structure, deciding on VAT status, discussing operating costs, creating revenue forecasts and company secretarial services.

2. When you can’t cope

There are only 24 hours in a day, not a minute more or less so we must optimise the time we have. If numbers are stressing you out or spending long hours trying to figure out the changing tax regulations is causing you anxiety, it is time to hire an accountant or even consider outsourcing your entire accounting function.

3. When your business is growing

Business growth is a natural process for most businesses but it doesn’t happen accidentally. Hiring an accountant who can provide sound financial advice on the best growth strategy for your business is mandatory for success.

4. When you need help with your finances

One common question we hear from entrepreneurs is why their business can be technically insolvent when the sales are booming. Another one is why profitability remains the same even when sales are up. If you find yourself losing control of your finances, it’s time to talk to an accountant.

5. When your tax bills are high

No one likes to receive an unexpected tax bill or pay more tax than they should. At Berley, we will look at allowances and tax reliefs you can claim but haven’t and have an honest discussion about tax with you. It must be said that we don’t believe in creative accounting that will get you in trouble with HMRC.

What kind of accountant do you need?

In the UK, most businesses tend to hire chartered accountants who have undergone a minimum of three years of in-depth training, passed a series of examinations in financial management, auditing, business strategy and taxation. Above all, ICAEW chartered accountants are bound by strict Code of Ethics and subject to tough disciplinary procedures.

Not all chartered accountants will suit your business however. Some chartered accountants work mainly on big accounts or focus on a specific vertical market like healthcare or real estate. At Berley, our team specialises in small businesses, including budding enterprises and SMEs across London that have an appetite to grow the business.

You will also want to consider the location of your business in relation to the location of your accountant if you prefer to meet them face-to-face. Even if you prefer to communicate digitally, an accountant shouldn’t be someone whom you meet or talk to once a year. Regular conversations will foster a closer working relationship, which in turn will help you make good decisions that lead to profitability and growth.

Most important, in our opinion, is to find a chartered accountant who takes the time to understand your business and your unique circumstances. At Berley, we don’t believe in applying a one-size-fits-all solution to every client. We invest the time to understand your situation before recommending solutions that address your needs specifically.

What can an accountant do for you?

ICAEW chartered accountants work in every aspect of the economy and tend to cover the following areas within a company:

  1. Make sure financial data are accurate
  2. Evaluate data to recommend best practices and help your company run efficiently
  3. Offer advice on cost reduction and revenue improvement
  4. Identify growth opportunities
  5. Prepare and maintain financial reports
  6. Submit reports to the relevant authority in compliance with the relevant regulations
  7. Prepare tax returns and remind you on tax deadlines
  8. Helping your business to become tax efficient
  9. Prepare forecasting and risk analysis assessments
  10. Uncover fraud when one of your employees has manipulated the numbers for personal gain

In addition, most accountancy firms in the UK also help entrepreneurs with tasks such as bookkeeping, preparing invoices, chasing up on unpaid invoices, filing VAT returns, payroll administration, as well as company secretarial services. The focus here is to give as much help to entrepreneurs like you as possible, so you can concentrate on running your business and have the best opportunity to succeed.

Finding a good accountant

If you’re ready to find a good accountant to work with you, then you should look for someone who possesses:

ICAEW chartered status

ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) is a professional body that provides qualifications and protects the quality of the accountancy and finance profession. ICAEW chartered accountants are bound by a strict Code of Ethics. If you want an accountant with knowledge and integrity, look for an ICAEW chartered accountant.

Professional competence

Your accountant must maintain a high level of professional knowledge and skill, giving you competent services based on the latest developments in practice, legislation and techniques.

Business acumen

Your accountant should be more than someone who submits your tax returns on time. As they have access to your business accounts, they can share with you how to use the financial data to enhance your efficiency and profitability.


The best accountants are the ones who are dedicated to the clients, so look for one who is willing to take the time to get to know you and understand your business.

Professional behaviour

Your accountant should conduct themselves professionally, respect confidentiality and provide thoughtful advice in an honest manner. Avoid those who offer shortcuts or creative accounting that will get you in trouble with HMRC.


At Berley, we believe that your accountant should be a proactive colleague who shows initiatives to solve financial issues and improve profitability, given that the business landscape is constantly changing.

Other questions you should ask include:

  • How they can help you specifically
  • What the fees are
  • Fees related to ad-hoc accounting advice
  • Technology that they use (small business accountants nowadays should use cloud-based accounting software)

Berley is here to help

At Berley, our team of chartered accountants have become valued members of our clients’ organisation, actively driving cost efficiencies and identifying growth opportunities. Give us a call on 020 7636 9094 or fill out our Contact Form to kick start a meaningful conversation on how we can help your company today.

We are also the ideal one-stop outsourced accounting services for busy entrepreneurs. The areas we cover include:

Outsourced accounting

  • Bookkeeping
  • Compilation of management accounts
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash flow reporting
  • Sales reporting
  • Expenses and receipt management

Tax compliance

  • VAT returns
  • EC sales lists
  • Corporate tax returns and advice


  • PAYE registration
  • Payroll administration
  • Pension processing
  • Benefits processing

Company secretarial services

  • Annual compliance with Companies House
  • Maintenance of statutory books

We are small business accountants – call today on 020 7636 9094

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.