Five questions you’ve probably never asked your accountant – but should

The shortlist of what business owners discuss with advisors is usually predictable. Growth, compliance, and financial issues get covered almost immediately. Trouble shooting also comes high on the list of priorities.

However, by sticking to the essentials, you could be missing out on golden pieces of advice that will make your life easier. Your business advisors have worked through every issue you’ll likely encounter, and they’re clued up on the goals and problems of business owners in a range of industries.

According to the UK wide team of accountants and business advisors at Haines Watts, here are some questions that you have probably never thought to ask your team, but you should.

  • Where am I losing money?

It’s natural to ask how profits can be increased or where there’s room for growth. Flipping the question to ask where a business is losing money can open new doors. There are many money-making factors that can be utilised by businesses that are often not made obvious to them. For example, businesses are often able to claim R&D tax relief which would save them money and improve cash flow.

Being outside of the proposed freeport status of multiple locations in the UK might force the assumption that your business is missing out, but it’s important to ask about your options on alternative ways to benefit. Authorised Economic Operator status might be a suitable way for businesses to reduce red tape and avoid missing out on the benefits.

  • What are you worried about?

Business owners are always certain of their own worries, but there is a lot to be learned from asking your advisor about their own worries. This doesn’t mean you ask your accountant to add to your existing worries, but when they point out their main areas of concern, you might find opportunities for your own operations. This could also validate any worries that you already have and help to prioritise those you hadn’t thought of as important. Accountants are business-minded just like you and you will often find that they have similar concerns.

  • Can we talk about something other than numbers?

It might be a surprise, but your accountant doesn’t sit around doing maths all day. At Haines Watts, it has long been known that accountancy is no longer just about numbers. It is about having an arm around the shoulder of a business owner and being there to offer a solution to problems. They will even be able to help with the problems you don’t realise you have. Having a wider scope of the conversation in your meetings may serve you well.

  • Fancy a coffee?

This might be the strangest but the easiest question to ask your accountant. You might not be friendly with your accountant yet but asking them for a drink or lunch will help to establish the kind of strong relationship that turns an advisor into a trusted ally. You will get the chance to speak about things other than business and understand how to work better together.

  • How can we make my team’s lives better?

The age old ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ still rings true. If there are people struggling in your team, or they are not getting everything they should out of their work, then you might find the whole business suffers. Creating valuable benefits for your team will create a stronger workforce.

You can ask your accountant for any new benefits that would be worth introducing. For example, healthcare benefits are a good way to keep your workforce happy and ensure that if they need support, they are receiving it. Flexible contracts are also a popular benefit in the age of hybrid working. Giving people the choice in their hours can prevent burnout and enhance productivity.