Finding the right accountant

May 2006

NumbersChoosing an accountant is an important decision for any freelance consultant or contractor. Whether the need is only for help with drawing up accounts and calculating corporation tax at year-end or for a full-blown accounting and bookkeeping service, the relationship is likely to be a long-term one that needs to be chosen carefully.

Last year, over 88 per cent of respondents to the PCG’s annual membership survey said that they sought business advice from their accountants - compared with just 15 per cent who turned to their banks. Their choice of accountant was influenced primarily by recommendations, followed by contractor experience and knowledge of IR35 and S660A.

When asked about which new services they would like to have introduced, members most wanted a scheme for identifying accountants who had received additional training on contractor-specific tax and accounting issues and had a good understanding of how freelance businesses operate.

In response to this PCG has launched an accredited accountant scheme.

Announcing the scheme, which is called PCG (QA), for 'Quality Accountant', PCG chairman Simon Juden said, 'PCG (QA) is designed to help members choose their accountant by identifying and promoting those who have been given additional and specialist training in freelance-specific issues and have undertaken and passed an exacting training and assessment programme.'

Developed and delivered in association with Accountax Consulting Limited, the PCG (QA) scheme involves a strict entry criteria and rigorous application process; a two-day training programme on IR35, S660A and customer service training; and an annual assessment, including feedback from PCG members.

The growing trend towards flexible working is likely to increase the demand for specialist accountants trained to handle issues that affect contractors specifically, such as IR35, contract reviews, S660A and PAYE.

PCG is the not-for-profit trade association representing independent freelancers in the UK and has informal links with BCS.