There may be several reasons why you decide to change your property accountant. The process needn’t be complicated and below we set out some of the key considerations you need to be aware of.
What to look for when choosing the right accountant?
- Your accountant ultimately needs to be someone you feel comfortable with and that you trust.
- You should also confirm that your accountant is appropriately qualified and affiliated with their national governing body. They may also be members of professional associations such as ARMA, which adds credibility to their practice.
- In the case of service charge accounts, it is also important that they have the knowledge and professional competence to deliver the service you require.
The process for changing accountant:
- Send written confirmation to your current accountant that you want to move to another practice and give them the new accountant’s contact details.
- Your current accountant will then send you a disengagement letter which should outline the work they have done for you, key dates and information which the new accountant will need to be aware of. You will be asked to sign this disengagement letter to confirm your intention to leave them.
- Once you have informed us that you have signed the disengagement letter, we will write to your current accountant to ask for ‘Professional Clearance’ so that we can act for you. We will also ask your accountant for copies of your papers and documentation including accounts and tax returns and online accounting details, where appropriate. As part of the professional clearance process, we are obliged to ask your current accountant if there are any reasons why we should not act for you. This is just a formality and does not usually give rise to any issues, but it is important that you are aware of this.
- We will then send you an engagement letter which will set out the basis of our working relationship with you. We will also detail the work we will be doing for you and issue you with a copy of our standard terms of business. You will need to read, sign and confirm your acceptance of these engagement terms. During this engagement process, we will carry out the appropriate money laundering checks on you.
- Finally, when the new engagement process has been finalised, we will ask for your authority for us to file your tax returns and communicate with HMRC on your behalf. This is done by getting you to sign a ’64-8’ authority form.
Common issues that arise when changing accountant:
- There is a risk that both accountants could be engaged at the same time if the correct process is not followed, resulting in two sets of accountancy fees.
- Communication breakdown can result in delays and additional costs due to increased workload. It is important to ensure that all parties are transparent and communication lines are kept open.
- Ensure the previous accountant has been disengaged and relevant people have been informed of the change.
- Confirm that you have given authority to the previous accountant to respond to any professional enquiries that may arise from the newly appointed accountant.
- To keep costs to a minimum, look to change your accountant at the end of your financial year and before too much work is carried out in the new financial year.
Thinking about changing your property accountant?
Talk to us! We’d be happy to chat through how we help property managers, owners and leaseholders across the country and how we could help you. We can also talk through the process for changing accountants and how we aim to make it as seamless as possible for you. Please contact John Dwyer, Managing Partner on 01803 321221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.