At Clear Books we talk a lot about small business heroes and the incredible work you’re all doing running your businesses — but there are some business heroes that, as far as we’re concerned, don’t get nearly enough credit.

Our accounting partners!

While we’re working hard to make sure we’re bringing you the very best online accounting software, innovations, and updates, these guys are right there with you, in the thick of it, helping you make sense of your finances, making your life a million times easier, and allowing you to grow and thrive in your business.

So, given that we’re dedicated to offering you the most effective and up-to-date advice for your small business, we figured it makes sense to add some of these incredible voices to the mix.

This week, we talked to Clear Books Accounting Partner, Annette Bunn from RIFT Accounting, to find out her top advice for getting the most out of working with your accountant.

Introducing RIFT Accounting.

Based in Kent (about 30 minutes from London), Annette has been running her accounting practice, RIFT, with her partner Dermott Kennedy since 2014. With a team of about 14 people, including accountants, junior accountants, and a VAT department, RIFT specialises in working with construction companies, although they do work with a range of SME clients from other industries such as IT and ecommerce.

In more normal times, the team at RIFT provide a wide range of services for their clients, sitting on their boards, providing mentoring, and working with them to grow their businesses, as well as the more day-to-day aspects of accountancy. More recently they’ve also been helping clients deal with COVID-related issues such as furlough questions, grants, and the treatment of VAT in the construction industry.

The three things Annette wants you to know…

There are three key things that Annette particularly wants to share with you about working with an accountant:

1. Don’t be afraid to talk to your accountant.

Sure, you can find a tonne of accounting info online. And yes, you probably have more than one small business friend you can turn to for advice about your finances.

But, as Annette says, “accounting best practices are pretty much the same no matter what industry you’re in, but the way it applies to your business is going to be unique”. So while “every business will have the same questions — the answers are going to be different based on who you are”.

Which is why it’s so important not just to be open with your accountant but to make sure that you’ve found the right person for the right job. For example, if you just need a bookkeeper, get a bookkeeper. If you need an accountant, get an accountant. And if you’re not sure which you need, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Any accountant or bookkeeper will be happy to explain which services you need.

2. Remember: your accountant is more than just a number-cruncher.

In fact, Annette believes your accountant is your greatest ally — for several reasons.

Not sure about how to keep up with the ever-changing world of accountancy, tax, and finance? Your accountant is there to help you with new developments, new legal requirements, and general “how do I?” questions, so you don’t have to “research everything into the ground”.

But more than that, they’re there to help you with the bigger picture stuff that’s going on in your business and give you a real sense of what’s going on.

Think that a particular client is pretty great? Your accountant might just spot a late-paying trend that you’ve missed. Or if they can see that you’re going to have to go down the VAT road before too long, your accountant will help you register in good time.

“Your accountant should understand the whole business, not just the money stuff, because when they understand your ambitions, they can set you up for success”.

3. Get on board with accounting software.

With Making Tax Digital, we’re all going to have to get on board with accounting software sooner rather than later, and Annette wants to reassure you that your accountant is here to help — no matter how tech-savvy (or otherwise!) you are.

She certainly doesn’t want anyone facing a fine just because they’re worried about using new tech!

She says, “when a client starts out with software, it would be easy to assume that people have a far better understanding of accounting and accounting software than they do. But we know that they don’t have the time to think about all of the elements an accountant needs and that they don’t necessarily see the true value in software and accountants”.

Which is why Annette and the team at RIFT are determined to help clients figure out how to make their software work for them and make it an integral part of their business, whether they’re worried they’re paying too much tax, aren’t sure they’re recording their information properly, or wondering whether they should be VAT-registered.

As Annette points out, “there’s so much more you can do with your accounting software than issuing invoices — there’s incredible data there. You have to understand your assets!”

The overriding theme here? Your accountant is in your corner — so whether you have issues about the day-to-day running of your business finances, questions about the exciting where-am-I-going-to-be-in-5-years big picture stuff, or you just want to make sure that you’re getting the very most from your accountant and your accounting software, don’t be afraid to check in with your accountant. That’s precisely what they’re there for!

Thanks, of course, to Annette not just for her contribution to this post, but for her wonderful work as a Clear Books Accounting Partner. She and the rest of the team at RIFT Accounting are incredible — get in touch with them here.

Established in 2014, RIFT Accounting prides itself on being a forward-thinking accountancy practice, looking to work with businesses to ensure they are confident with their accounting and work with them to get the business to the next level. Ambassadors of cloud accounting systems from the start, our mission is to support the growing number of entrepreneurs and their businesses, look for opportunities and give down to earth practical advice that business owners appreciate and tell us they need.

Clear Books is an award-winning online accounting software for small businesses. Thousands of business owners, contractors, freelancers and sole traders across the UK use our easy-to-use online accounting software to manage their business finances. All users benefit from the outstanding free telephone and email support. Clear Books was launched in London in 2008 and offers a free 30 day trial with free ongoing support and bank feeds. We’re rated as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.

Get a free 30-day trial of Clear Books online accounting software here.

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