How to Hire an Accountant

Table of Contents

Is it your first time hiring an accountant? An accountant plays a crucial role in any business. Your company’s day-to-day operations depend on your financial health. Thus, hiring the most fitting accountant for your business is crucial.  

This guide provides a step-by-step approach to help you find the right accountant to meet your needs and match your workplace culture from knowing what skills and qualifications to look for to the average salary based on business scale and industry. 

The Process of Hiring an Accountant:

Know Your Business Requirements and Budget

Evaluate your current financial operations to know specific needs and issues only an accountant can handle. By having concrete knowledge about why you need an accountant, hiring one that suits your needs can be easier.

  • Services: What specific tasks do you need help with? Tax preparation, bookkeeping, financial planning, or a combination?
  • Budget: Accounting fees vary based on experience, location, and service complexity. Determine a realistic budget to guide your search.

Know Whether You Need a Part-Time or a Full-Time Accountant

Deciding between full-time and part-time accounting services depends on several factors specific to your situation. Here are some key considerations to help you determine your needs:

Transaction volume and complexity:

  • High volume: Frequent daily or weekly transactions suggest a full-time accountant to ensure timely processing and avoid backlog.
  • Low volume: If your transactions are infrequent (monthly or quarterly) and relatively straightforward, part-time services might suffice.
  • Complex transactions: Complexities like inventory management, payroll, or intricate financial reporting call for a full-time professional to handle them effectively.
  • Simpler transactions: Recording basic income and expenses can potentially be managed by a part-time accountant.

Need for ongoing financial guidance:

  • Regular advice: If you require regular financial guidance, strategic planning, or assistance with complex financial decisions, a full-time accountant is recommended.
  • Occasional consultations: Part-time services might be adequate for occasional consultations on specific issues like tax planning or investment strategies.

Budgetary constraints:

  • Part-time is generally more affordable than full-time, making it an attractive option if budget is a primary concern.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Growth plans: If you anticipate significant business growth in the near future, it might be wise to invest in a full-time accountant from the outset to avoid needing to transition later.
  • Your expertise: If you have a strong understanding of accounting principles and bookkeeping practices, you might be comfortable managing some tasks yourself and supplementing with part-time professional help.

Prepare Accountant Assessment Tests

Pre-employment testing is a practical way of evaluating every candidate. It is ideal to customise evaluation based on your company’s needs and work culture. Using online assessment for hiring or job fit evaluation tools, you can have a better grasp whether or not they are a great fit or not. 

What is Skills Gap Analysis?

A skills gap analysis is a systematic process used by organisations to identify the discrepancy between the skills their employees currently possess and the skills required to achieve their strategic goals. It helps organisations understand their workforce’s strengths and weaknesses. It also allows them to develop targeted strategies to bridge the gaps and ensure their workforce is equipped to meet future needs.

What is Talent Intelligence?

Talent intelligence (TI) refers to a data-driven approach used by organisations to gain deeper insights into their workforce and talent market. It involves collecting and analysing data from various sources to:

  • Understand the skills and capabilities of your current employees.
  • Identify emerging talent trends and skills gaps within your industry.
  • Make informed decisions regarding hiring, development, and retention strategies.

Prepare Interview Questions for an Accountant

1. Experience and Qualifications:

  • Tell me about your experience as an accountant. What specific areas of accounting are you most familiar with? (This assesses their overall experience and expertise.)
  • Do you have a CPA or EA licence? If not, what other relevant certifications do you hold? (This verifies their professional qualifications.)
  • Can you walk me through your experience with [mention a specific software relevant to your needs]? (This gauges their technical skills and software proficiency.)

2. Understanding Your Needs:

  • Can you explain how you would approach [mention a specific challenge you face]? (This assesses their problem-solving skills and ability to adapt to your needs.)
  • What are your thoughts on the current [mention relevant industry or financial trend]? (This evaluates their understanding of the current financial landscape and how it might impact your business.)
  • How do you stay up-to-date on changes in accounting regulations and tax laws? (This assesses their commitment to continuous learning and staying current in the field.)

3. Communication and Work Style:

  • Can you describe your communication style and how you typically keep clients informed? (This ensures clear and timely communication, which is crucial for a good working relationship.)
  • How do you handle complex situations or unexpected challenges? (This evaluates their problem-solving skills and ability to remain composed under pressure.)
  • Can you tell me about a time you had to explain a complex financial concept to someone with limited accounting knowledge? (This assesses their ability to explain complex information clearly and understandably.)

4. References and Fees:

  • Can you provide me with references from previous clients? (Contacting references helps verify their work ethic, communication skills, and responsiveness.)
  • What is your hourly rate or fee structure for the services I require? (This clarifies potential costs and ensures they align with your budget.)
  • Do you offer any engagement letters or service agreements outlining the scope of work and fees involved? (This ensures clear expectations and protects both parties.)

Bonus Questions:

  • What are your preferred methods for collaboration and communication?
  • How do you approach maintaining data security and confidentiality?
  • What are your career aspirations, and how does this position fit into your long-term goals? (Optional: Helps understand their long-term commitment and potential fit within your organisation.)

Remember: Tailor these questions to your specific needs and your hiring role. Encourage the candidate to ask questions as well. This can reveal additional insights into their personality and suitability for the position.

Look for a Credible Job Posting Platform

Finding a credible job posting platform depends largely on your specific needs and the type of accountant you’re seeking. Here are some options with varying strengths:

General Job Boards:

  • Indeed: Popular platform with a vast reach, catering to a wide range of positions, including accounting roles.
  • LinkedIn: Powerful professional networking site offering targeted job postings and the ability to search for candidates with specific profiles.
  • Glassdoor: Provides company reviews alongside job postings, giving you insights into potential employers.

Accounting-Specific Platforms:

  • AICPA & NAEA Job Boards: Official platforms of professional accounting associations, connecting you with qualified and licensed professionals.
  • Accounting Today Job Board: This specialised platform focuses on accounting and finance positions across various industries.
  • Robert Half: Recruitment agency specialising in finance and accounting professionals, offering high-quality candidates but potentially higher fees.

Tips for Credibility:

  • Look for established platforms: Choose platforms with a strong reputation and track record in the job market.
  • Evaluate transparency: Ensure the platform clearly states its fees, policies, and how it verifies job postings.
  • Read reviews and testimonials: Research online reviews from employers and job seekers to understand the platform’s effectiveness.

Ultimately, the best platform depends on your specific needs. By considering the factors above and conducting your research, you can choose a credible platform that helps you find the perfect accountant for your needs.

How To Attract Your Ideal Accountant? 

1. Offer a Competitive and Comprehensive Compensation Package:

  • Offer employees a fair or competitive salary. 
  • Provide employees good benefits such as paid vacations, medical insurances, etc. 

2. Foster a Positive and Engaging Work Environment:

  • Foster a healthy work culture.
  • Ensure each employee enjoys work-life balance.
  • Offer workshops for continuous learning.

3. Emphasise Career Development Opportunities:

  • Layout clear career paths and room for promotion.
  • Offer mentorship programs.

4. Showcase Your Firm’s Values and Mission:

  • Instil transparency and open communication.
  • Create an inclusive work space. 

5. Leverage Your Existing Network and Online Presence:

  • Encourage employee referrals.
  • Implement a strong online presence.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a compelling value proposition that attracts top accounting talent. Moreover, it helps you build a successful and future-proof team. Remember, a truly successful approach requires continuous evaluation and adaptation. Additionally, it ensures you remain competitive in the dynamic landscape of attracting and retaining top accounting professionals.

How to Onboard An Accountant?

Pre-First Day:

  1. Gather Information: Collect necessary paperwork like tax forms and identification documents beforehand.
  2. Set up workspace and technology: Ensure their workspace is prepared with the necessary equipment, access to software, and relevant login details.
  3. Welcome package: Create a personalised welcome package with company information, team introductions, and relevant resources.

First Day:

  1. Welcome and introductions: Organise a warm welcome by the team, including introductions and an office tour.
  2. Review company policies and benefits: Provide a clear overview of company policies, benefits, and expectations.
  3. Technology and software training: Offer thorough training on the specific software and tools they’ll be using.

First Week:

  1. Project and role overview: Deep dive into their specific role, responsibilities, and ongoing projects they’ll be involved in.
  2. Introduce key contacts: Facilitate introductions and connections with colleagues they’ll collaborate with regularly.
  3. Set expectations and goals: Set clear and achievable goals for the first few weeks and months, focusing on key tasks and responsibilities.

Ongoing Support:

  1. Mentorship and guidance: Assign a mentor to offer ongoing support, answer questions, and provide guidance as they settle in.
  2. Performance feedback and check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins to provide feedback, address any concerns, and ensure they feel supported and valued.
  3. Social integration: Encourage participation in social events and team-building activities to foster a sense of belonging and connection.

Additional Onboarding Tips:

  • Focus on learning and development: Offer opportunities for continuous learning through internal training, conferences, or online resources.
  • Open communication: Foster a culture of open communication where they feel comfortable asking questions and raising concerns.
  • Regular feedback loop: Encourage feedback from them about the onboarding process, company culture, and overall experience.

By following these steps you can effectively integrate your new accountant into the team. Moreover, prioritising a personalised and supportive onboarding experience, you can set them up for success in their role. 

Career Development for Accountants at Different Stages

Accountant’s Early Career (0-5 years):

  • Focus on mastering core skills and knowledge: fundamental accounting principles, industry-standard software, communication, and interpersonal skills.
  • Pursue relevant certifications: CPA, CMA, CFE.
  • Engage in continuous learning and development: CPE courses, online learning, and industry publications.
  • Build professional networks and relationships: join organisations, attend events, find mentors.
  • Identify and pursue career goals: explore different paths, showcase accomplishments, develop an online presence, and demonstrate a strong work ethic.

Accountant’s Mid-Career (5-10 years):

  • Leverage established skills and experience: specialise in a specific area (tax, audit, forensic accounting), take on leadership roles, and mentor junior colleagues.
  • Continue professional development: advanced courses, conferences, research opportunities.
  • Strengthen network and establish connections: build relationships with senior professionals, industry leaders, and potential clients.
  • Evaluate career goals and aspirations: pursue management positions, consider career shifts within the field, and explore entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Develop strategic career planning: set long-term goals, identify skills and knowledge gaps, and develop a roadmap for career advancement.

Accountant’s Late Career (10+ years):

  • Utilise extensive experience and expertise: mentor and guide younger generations to contribute to industry initiatives and thought leadership.
  • Maintain professional currency: stay updated on new regulations and technologies and participate in professional development opportunities.
  • Consider career transitions: move into advisory roles, consulting, board positions, or teaching/mentoring within the field.
  • Focus on career legacy: share knowledge and insights with the next generation and contribute to the profession’s growth and development.
  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance: while remaining engaged, prioritise personal well-being and explore new interests outside of work.

Accountant’s Career Additional Tips

  • Develop strong soft skills: critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills, negotiation, and leadership.
  • Stay adaptable and embrace change: the accounting profession constantly evolves, so be open to new technologies, approaches, and learning opportunities.
  • Promote yourself and your accomplishments: don’t be afraid to showcase your expertise and achievements through publications, speaking engagements, or online platforms.
  • Maintain a positive and growth-oriented mindset: continuously seek new challenges, learn from mistakes, and strive for excellence throughout your career.

Career development is a continuous process that requires consistent effort, self-reflection, and adaptation. By actively managing your development journey and aligning your goals with the evolving needs of the profession, you can ensure a fulfilling and successful career in accounting at any stage.

Why Should You Hire an Accountant?

Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider hiring an accountant:

1. Expertise and Accuracy:
  • Financial Management: Accountants possess deep knowledge of accounting principles, tax regulations, and financial reporting standards. Additionally, they can ensure your finances are managed competently and efficiently, leading to accurate financial records and informed decision-making based on reliable data.
2. Time Management and Efficiency:
  • Freeing Up Your Time: Running a business is demanding, and handling finances can eat into valuable time. Accountants can take over bookkeeping, tax preparation, ad financial statement generation, allowing you to focus on core business activities.
3. Compliance and Avoiding Penalties:
  • Staying Up-to-Date: Navigating the ever-changing world of tax laws and regulations can be a challenge. Accountants can ensure your business remains compliant, avoiding costly penalties and potential legal issues.
4. Saving Money and Maximising Profits:
  • Tax Optimization: Accountants can identify tax deductions and credits you may not be aware of, potentially saving your business significant money. Furthermore, they can also offer strategies to improve cash flow and maximise profits.
5. Business Planning and Growth:
  • Strategic Guidance: Accountants can help create financial projections, conduct analyses, and develop a robust business plan. This data-driven approach can help attract investors and ensure your financial goals align with your business strategies.
6. Peace of Mind and Reduced Stress:
  • Financial Security: Knowing your finances are in the hands of a qualified professional can provide peace of mind and reduce stress. Accountants can be trusted advisors, offering guidance and support for making sound financial decisions for your business’s future.

In addition to these benefits, accountants can also provide a variety of other services, such as:

  • Financial planning and budgeting: Accountants can help you create a financial plan and budget to meet your short- and long-term goals.
  • Business consulting: Accountants can provide advice on a variety of business matters, such as starting a business, growing a business, and financial forecasting.
  • Auditing: Accountants can help you ensure that your financial statements are accurate and comply with all applicable accounting standards.

Ultimately, hiring an accountant can be a valuable investment for your business. Whether you’re a small startup or a well-established company, an accountant’s expertise can contribute to your success and financial stability.

What to Look for in an Accountant?

What Skills to Look for in a Junior Accountant?

A junior accountant is an entry-level position within the accounting field, ideal for individuals with a basic understanding of accounting principles and a desire to learn and grow in the profession.  

Here’s a breakdown of the typical responsibilities, required skills, and career paths associated with this role:

Junior Accountant Responsibilities:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Assisting with financial reporting
  • Data entry and bookkeeping
  • Tax preparation and assistance
  • Administrative tasks

Junior Accountant Technical Skills:

  • Accounting principles: A strong understanding of fundamental accounting principles such as double-entry bookkeeping, journal entries, financial statements, and financial analysis is essential.
  • Accounting software proficiency: Familiarity with industry-standard accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, or specific software relevant to your business needs.
  • Tax knowledge: Basic understanding of tax principles and procedures relevant to your business or industry.
  • Data analysis and spreadsheet skills: Ability to analyse large datasets, create and manipulate spreadsheets using tools like Microsoft Excel, and present findings effectively.

Junior Accountant Soft Skills:

  • Attention to detail: A keen eye for accuracy and meticulousness in handling financial data is crucial to ensure error-free bookkeeping and financial reporting.
  • Strong communication: Effective communication skills are essential for collaborating with colleagues, explaining financial information to various audiences, and maintaining clear documentation.
  • Organisation and time management: The ability to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and manage multiple projects efficiently is essential in a fast-paced environment.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: The ability to identify and solve problems related to accounts receivable, payable, or discrepancies in financial data.
  • Willingness to learn: A strong desire to learn and adapt to new technologies, accounting principles, and regulations is crucial for continuous professional development.

Additional Considerations:

  • Educational background: While a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance is often preferred, relevant coursework, certifications, or practical experience can also be valuable.
  • Interpersonal skills: The ability to interact professionally with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders is important, especially if the role involves interacting with clients directly.
  • Work ethic and motivation: Look for individuals who demonstrate a strong work ethic, a willingness to take initiative, and a commitment to achieving accurate and timely results.

What Skills to Look for in a Senior Accountant?

A senior accountant plays a vital role in the accounting department, bridging junior staff and management. They possess a deeper understanding of accounting principles, experience in various accounting functions, and the ability to independently manage complex tasks and projects. 

Here’s a comprehensive overview of the responsibilities, required skills, and career progression associated with this position:

Senior Accountant Responsibilities:

  • Manage and oversee the work of junior accountants
  • Prepare and analyse complex financial statements
  • Perform in-depth financial analysis
  • Develop and maintain accounting systems and procedures
  • Manage budgeting and forecasting
  • Prepare tax returns or assist with tax planning
  • Liaise with external auditors

Senior Accountant Technical Skills:

  • In-depth accounting knowledge: A thorough understanding of complex accounting concepts, financial reporting standards (US GAAP, IFRS, etc.), and tax regulations relevant to your industry.
  • Advanced experience with accounting software: Proficiency in advanced features of industry-standard software and the ability to adapt to new software if needed.
  • Expertise in specific areas: Depending on your needs, expertise in areas like auditing, financial analysis, budgeting, or tax accounting may be crucial.
  • Data analysis and visualisation skills: Advanced ability to analyse large datasets, create informative reports and presentations, and effectively communicate financial insights.

Senior Accountant Soft Skills:

  • Leadership and mentorship: The ability to guide and coach junior colleagues, delegate tasks effectively, and foster a positive and collaborative work environment.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills: Strong communication skills to convey complex financial information to diverse audiences, both orally and in writing.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: The ability to identify and solve complex financial problems, analyse risks, and make sound recommendations based on sound judgement.
  • Time management and organisational skills: Expertise in managing multiple projects, meeting deadlines, and prioritising tasks efficiently.
  • Strong work ethic and professional demeanour: A high degree of professionalism, integrity, and commitment to delivering high-quality work.

Additional Considerations:

  • Certifications: Depending on the specific role and industry, relevant professional certifications like CPA, CMA, or CFE can be an advantage.
  • Experience in relevant industry: Prior experience in your specific industry or a similar sector can be highly valuable, as they already possess an understanding of the unique financial aspects and regulatory landscape.
  • Strategic thinking and business acumen: The ability to see the bigger picture, analyse data to identify trends and opportunities, and provide strategic financial insights that contribute to the overall success of the organisation.

The Average Accountant Salary

The average salary for an accountant can vary significantly depending on several factors, including:

  • Experience: As expected, accountants with more experience typically command higher salaries.
  • Location: Geographic location plays a significant role, with salaries generally higher in larger metropolitan areas and cost-of-living areas.
  • Industry: Salaries can differ across industries, with some sectors like finance and technology offering higher average salaries compared to others.
  • Education and certifications: Possessing relevant certifications like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA (Certified Management Accountant) can lead to higher earning potential.
  • Company size and type: Larger companies and public accounting firms generally offer higher salaries compared to smaller companies and non-profit organisations.

Average Accountant Salary in the UK:

Monthly: £2543

Average Accountant Salary in the US:

Monthly: $4,440

Where to Find Accountants?

Here are several ways to find qualified accountants for your needs, whether you’re an individual or a business:

Online Resources:

  • Job boards: Popular job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and Glassdoor offer filters to search for accountant positions in your area. You can use keywords like “accountant,” “CPA,” or “accounting professional” and refine your search by location, experience level, and other relevant criteria.
  • Professional accounting associations: Websites of organisations like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) often have directories of members. You can search for accountants based on location, specialisation, and certification (if applicable).
  • Freelance platforms: Upwork and Fiverr offer freelance accountants who can work on specific projects or short-term engagements. Carefully review their profiles, ratings, and experience before hiring.

Offline Resources:

  • Networking: Talk to your personal and professional network. Friends, family, colleagues, or current business associates might know qualified accountants they can recommend.
  • Local accounting firms: Search for accounting firms in your area. Many firms have websites showcasing their services and contact information. You can schedule consultations to discuss your specific needs and see if they’re a good fit.
  • Financial institutions: Banks and credit unions may have partnerships with or recommendations for local accountants.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider your specific needs: When searching for an accountant, be clear about your specific requirements. Do you need someone for tax preparation, bookkeeping, financial reporting, or another service?
  • Check credentials and qualifications: Ensure the accountant you choose is licensed and certified (if required in your area) and possesses the necessary experience and expertise for your needs.
  • Read online reviews and testimonials: Look for online reviews and testimonials from past clients to get a sense of the accountant’s reputation and work ethic.
  • Schedule consultations: Interview potential accountants to discuss your needs, ask questions about their experience and approach, and assess if they fit your personality and working style well.
  • Compare fees and quotes: Get quotes from several accountants before deciding. Consider their fees, payment structure, and the value they offer for the price.

Unlocking the Ideal Accountant with Serand

Comprehensive Candidate Profiling:  “Serand doesn’t simply check skills off a list. Our assessments generate in-depth personality profiles, measuring crucial traits like integrity, attention to detail, and adaptability. This provides insights no traditional interview can match.”

Situational Judgement for Real-World Success: “Technical knowledge is only part of the equation. Serand’s job-specific situational judgement questions put candidates into realistic accounting scenarios. Their responses reveal how they think, prioritise, and handle challenges – critical for long-term success.”

Cutting Through Social Desirability Bias:  “Serand’s assessments incorporate subtle measures of social desirability, helping pinpoint candidates who are genuinely trustworthy and ethical. This adds a layer of security to your hiring process, vital when handling sensitive financial data.”

Identifying Hidden Potential: Serand’s personality profiling might uncover high-potential candidates whose resumes don’t reflect their full capabilities.

Beyond the Resume: Assessments reveal how candidates think under pressure, their communication style, and their ethical compass. These intangibles are impossible to gauge from a resume alone.

Ready to find accountants with not just the right skills, but the right mindset? Discover how Serand’s assessments unlock a deeper understanding of candidates. Ask us a question.

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