Should you let an accountant pick your 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?
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.
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;)
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.
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.