Phil Khor

Should you let your accountant pick the accounting software for you?

I'm curious that since so many accountants are only certified for certain accounting software, which decision do you make first when engaging an accountant? In other words, do you pick an accountant based on your choice of the accounting software, OR is it the other way around i.e do you let your accountant of choice select whichever product they are comfortable with, so long as your books are taken care of? Why?

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4 Answers

Daniel Odd

Some great answers here.  My experience has shown that many times this discussion revolves more around the issue of fees than that of what software is best for the client.  Why?  Because the accountant that is NOT familiar with the clients preferred software will often request that a client use something else, because he knows that he will take longer to do the job (therefore charge more), and therefore may potentially lose the job. 

I think Stephen hits the nail on the head - software should be just one factor, not the deciding factor.  At the end of the day, the real question should be: What do you want from your accountant?  An annual tax return for the lowest price is a very different requirement than monthly reporting with KPI's and pro-active advice. Defining what you really want and need from your accountant, will go a long way in determining what software (and accountant) you ultimately choose.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon , Principal at Prestige SME Business Solutions

The bookkeeper or Accountant should do a thorough review of what the client requires, especially reports and features. Then provide a few options and then make ... read more
The bookkeeper or Accountant should do a thorough review of what the client requires, especially reports and features. Then provide a few options and then make a few recommendations. Then the client can make the choice and the correct decision can be made.
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Stephen Pearson

As an accountant and small business owner software should only be one of several evaluation points for choosing accountants. Some choices of software are expensive and not suitable for actually running the business whatever the accountants says. I had SAP phone me yesterday and I had to say frankly that they weren't never going to be on my list as too expensive and inflexible.

Unfortunately accounting software providers go in cycles - early promise and delivery followed by steep price rises . MYOB was fantastic in its early days, then they discovered that they could charge for everything and did. I chose Saasu three years and it has been good. Recently they changed their pricing structure and I am back to doing our small payroll manually. Sometimes they just don't get it.  Sounds like Xero would worth a look.

Michael Prior

Michael Prior , Principal at PB Advisory Group

Stephen, Xero is certainly worth a look and they will provide a pretty extensive demo site for you to evaluate.
Stephen, Xero is certainly worth a look and they will provide a pretty extensive demo site for you to evaluate.
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Jacquie Baker

Jacquie Baker , Co-founder at Sureshot

I am not sure about others, but I chose my accountant because he was a Xero partner. Xero is like crack for book-keeping/accounting.  Once you try it your hooked.  So I was hooked, there was no way I was going to use an accountant that didn't use it.  

 

( disclaimer: I don't actually know what crack is like;)

 

 

Dave Holmes

Dave Holmes , Director at Dictate Australia Pty Ltd

It's a yes and no answer. If you are comfortable around technology and software you can pick what you think is right for your and your business and then guide y... read more
It's a yes and no answer. If you are comfortable around technology and software you can pick what you think is right for your and your business and then guide your accountant in that direction. If software and tech is not your thing you will have to go with their recommendation. For me I evaluated Xero and Saasu and opted for Xero. At the time my accountant was just starting to look into cloud acounts and had some other option they were touting. Now they are hooked on Xero, I like Jacquie's comment above re Xero being the accounting software drug of choice, very apt.
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Michael Prior

Michael Prior , Principal at PB Advisory Group

Phil,

 

 I would be surprised if Accountants are chosen based on the software they recommend. However once you have chosen an Accountant then by all means use his/her professional expertise in helping you select an appropriate accounting system but It really depends on the complexity of business and your needs. If you have an engineering firm then MYOB or Xero are probably not the system you need.

Phil Khor

Phil Khor , Founder at SavvySME

Thanks Michael. Do you see an inherent risk of our chosen accountants may have a natural bias towards a particular accounting software that they are certified i... read more
Thanks Michael. Do you see an inherent risk of our chosen accountants may have a natural bias towards a particular accounting software that they are certified in (say MYOB or Xero per your example), but the software may not necessarily the best option in our mind for our business, say an engineering firm per your example?
Michael Prior

Michael Prior , Principal at PB Advisory Group

Phil, There is certainly a risk that the Accountant's prefferred choice may lead to the business being driven by the system rather than the other way around. ... read more
Phil, There is certainly a risk that the Accountant's prefferred choice may lead to the business being driven by the system rather than the other way around. I would recommend you ask. Why is this a good choice for my business?, Why do you prefer this over a competitor? What are other businesses like mine using and why?
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