Guide to Choosing an Accountant

  • What are your requirements?
  • Questions to ask – Qualifications, fees, services

An accountant can be very useful in helping you negotiate your financial affairs. They can help you understand your liabilities and work to reduce unnecessary payments. However, there are a lot of accountants out there to choose from, so how do you decide which one to go with? Here are a few guidelines to help you choose.


The first thing to consider when researching potential accountants is what your needs are. Are you looking for someone to simply help with your tax return or do you require more specific, specialised advice, perhaps related to organising various income streams or assets so as to minimise tax liability. Ensure the account has experience in the area you need advice on.


Look for an accountant that is qualified. As a member of a professional association, the accountant will have to meet certain levels of performance and typically have to undergo regular examination and training to ensure standards are maintained.

The three bodies in Australia that qualify accountants are:

  • The Institute of Public Accounts
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
  • Certified Practicing Accounts Australia


Another important consideration is the fee that the accountant charges for their services. Shopping around for several quotes will give you some idea of the going rate for the job you require, although fees can vary widely depending on the accountant. Be aware that the cheapest is not always the best option. Bear in mind other things, such as the recommendations of friends or colleagues and the level of service the accountant provides.


Accountants are, like many other businesses, customer focused. The quality of service they provide will be a key factor in your decision. When you first talk to them, are they able to explain things to you in a way that you can understand, or do they use a lot of financial jargon? Do they respond to your emails and phone calls promptly? Are they proactive or only contact you after you have left a message? Recommendations from friends, family or work colleagues are often helpful in assessing the level of service you can expect from an accountant.

Whether it is a helping hand at tax return time, or more specialised advice relating to your assets or income, an accountant could prove invaluable. By taking the time to research your options carefully, you should be able to find a professional who meets your needs and, hopefully, save you money!