It always surprises me when a client says when I recommend that their accountant be present at a family meeting, that their accountant ‘isn’t much good’. When running a business, especially one as complex as a farm business, a good accountant can be a valuable asset.
I don’t believe that there are a lot of bad accountants out there – although there are some! – I think that maybe we don’t communicate with them as effectively as we could. That communication should start with ourselves and having clarity about what we want from our accountant.
If we just want someone to sort out our accounts at the end of the year that’s quite straightforward. However is we want someone to save us from paying too much tax and give us tax advice throughout the year then that is something we should ask for.
When talking about succession and avoiding paying Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax this is a specialist area. Some accountants are very good and others are not. Therefore don’t be afraid to ask for advice elsewhere. I know of one tax expert that works with other accountants and signs a declaration promising not to ‘poach’ the client. Also don’t forget that if you are a member of the NFU, CLA (not sure about the FUW- apologies) they have a free tax advice service.
In the end you get the accountant you deserve. After all you give the information to the accountant and you can shop around if you’re not satisfied with the service you are getting.