A Checklist before hiring an Accountant or Book Keeper


Fiona Green

|Business Crisis Expert|Disability , Business, Mental Health Activist| Researcher

We are connecting more and more with overseas Accountants who are just as concerned as us with Accounting and Book Keeping misconduct. It is even more reassuring to us that such Accountants are not afraid to speak up publicly, about such matters. We have not met any New Zealand Accountants yet – who exude the same passion and courage as their overseas counterparts.

We know there are some fantastic Accountants out there with an attuned sense of duty.  These are the ones who put their Client’s needs first, because they genuinely want to do the best they can to support them whether they be owners of small, medium, and large business enterprises.

We at Business Crisis Support NZ, more than any other Organisation, are well aware of a variety of sketchy practises that basically boil down to what is known as Accounting and Book Keeping misconduct.

As a result, the following checklist of questions have been designed around such findings. By asking a prospective or current Accountant some or all of these questions (depending on how brave you are), will help you determine whether the services they provide are in your best interests. (Some of these apply to Book Keepers as well).

Alternatively, some of these questions may be ones you query and investigate yourself – and pose later. Here is the checklist of questions:

  1.  Do you know what you’re doing?
  2.  Are you going to surprise me further down the track and pull the plug when I least expect it, and leave me floundering?
  3. How many of your Clients have had their businesses liquidated? Were you the Liquidator?
  4. How many of your Clients have failed in business when they had you as Accountant/Book Keeper?
  5. If Juniors in your firm are preparing my end of year financials, is an Accountant reviewing them before they go out the door, since I am paying the Accountant’s hourly rate?
  6. Give me 3 examples of how you have turned a business around. (Tip: Ask this question especially if the Accountant advertises that they do business turnarounds. Are they able to provide one example? Were they able to provide 3 examples? Providing three examples would be a miracle).
  7. Are you familiar with benchmarking and do you know the profit margins of a Client’s particular Industry? What’s the profit margin for my Industry then?
  8. As my monthly and End of Year accounts largely require data entry skills, what do you determine as a reasonable hourly rate? The reason I ask is because an Office Worker could do the same for $20 an hour.
  9. For data entry, are two fingers better at getting my financials done in a timely manner – or 10 fingers?
  10. Will I be able to get my End of Year Financials straight away, or will I have to sign a disclaimer beforehand?
  11. Do you ‘cook the books’ without Clients realising it – so that further down the track they get into trouble for your dishonesty?
  12. Do able-bodied Clients get preferential treatment over special needs clients, or do you treat everybody the same?
  13. Do large Companies get preferential treatment over small businesses?
  14. Do you tell Clients they don’t need to go through an Accountant to get their NZ Companies Annual Returns done, or do you just go ahead and do this anyway and charge them for your services on top of the NZ Companies Annual returns fee?

We continue to advocate for changes pertaining to New Zealand Accounting and Book Keeping Practises. We are currently drafting a Book Keeping Act – as one has never existed before. A Book Keeping Act needs to come into existence so that the Book Keeping Industry is better regulated in areas such as professional conduct, best practise, etc.

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Fiona Green

|Business Crisis Expert|Disability , Business, Mental Health Activist| Researcher

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