Guide to Hiring an Accountant

Welcome to the ultimate A-Z guide for hiring an accountant with everything you need to know about the services they offer. You can also find the contact details of the most highly rated accountancy firms in the UK or search for an accountant in your local area.

Top rated accountants in the UK

The following UK accountancy companies have received the highest ratings from their local communities:

What does an accountant do?

An example of a local accountant calculating tax for a customer

Accountants and accountancy firms offer a wide range of finance-related services for individuals and businesses. Generally, these services are broken up into three main areas:

  • Management accounting, such as forecasting and cost reporting based on budgets.
  • Financial accounting, such as creating end of year statements for shareholders, VAT returns, bookkeeping and more.
  • Tax accounting, such as advising self-employed individuals and businesses on how to complete their tax forms

For individuals, an accountant can assist you with personal finance matters, such as debt consolidation and explaining the processes involved in receiving inheritance tax or dealing with a tax rebate.

Accountants can also assist individuals looking to start their own business, from getting them started as a sole trader via self-assessment to showing them how to set up a limited company.

For established businesses, accountants can help in many ways, from preparing your end of year accounts for HMRC to auditing all aspects of your companies financial operations.

How much do accountants charge?

In most instances, an accountant will be able to offer you a free consultation. This initial consultation is an excellent opportunity for you to explain precisely what you need help with so that your accountant can put together a comprehensive quote for further services.

The fee for these services will vary based on whether you need help with your personal accounts, or if you're self-employed. The same is true for established small to medium businesses that may have greatly varying accounting needs.

You may also find that an accountants fees will vary depending on location. For example, an accountant in London is almost guaranteed to charge more than an accountant based outside of the capital.

How do you find an accountant?

An example of an accountant that offers bookkeeping services and tax advice

You can search for an accountant directly on Thomson Local, all you need to do is navigate to our accountant's page and search within your desired location. Then simply create a shortlist of accountants and accountancy firms that appeal to you and contact each of them for a quote. Weighing these quotes up against the services they offer and the customer reviews they have received should give you a good indication as to who you should hire.

Do accountants have to be qualified?

To become an accountant, the AAT qualification is the entry level requirement. To become a chartered accountant you would need to pursue higher level qualifications such as the ACCA or CIMA. It’s not possible to become an accountant just because you have a degree in maths or economics, though having these qualifications is undoubtedly a desirable prerequisite for training to become an accountant.

What services do accountants offer?

The following accountancy services are commonly available as standard from most accountants. However, it's always a good idea to check first to avoid disappointment or delays.

Debt management advice

If you are struggling with debt or having problems making repayments, then a local accountant may be able to help. Often this could simply be a case of showing you how to manage your budget better and make the most of your money. Or, it could involve exploring other options that may be more appropriate, such as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement with your creditors, or bankruptcy.

Remember, most accountants will offer a free 30-minute consultation as standard, so it's well worth seeing if they can help you. Alternatively, you can get free debt advice from debt support charities such as Stepchange.


Most accountancy firms will offer a bookkeeping service, which is essentially an advanced data and record keeping service that's useful for creating a range of detailed reports. This can include anything from income and expenditure reporting to calculating interest and investments. Some bookkeeping services also include a proactive element too, such as chasing debtors for payments, paying in cheques and dealing with suppliers and creditors such as HMRC on your behalf.

VAT returns

A VAT return is a tax form that you file every three months to show how much VAT you owe HMRC. This form includes your total sales and purchases for the three-month period, the amount of VAT that you owe and the amount of VAT you can reclaim. If you are unfamiliar with this process, or would just like it to be handled by a professional, then your local accountant should be able to help.

Self-assessment tax returns

If you are self-employed, then you'll need to file your self-assessment tax return by January 31st of each tax year. Depending on how much tax you owe and how much you need to claim as expenses this can be quite a complicated task. Fortunately, your accountant will be able to help with this, leaving you free to concentrate on running your business.

Tax advice

Accountants and accountancy companies deal with tax on a daily basis, so if you're looking for some professional tax advice, there's no better place to seek help. This could range from guidance on how to complete your self-assessment to advice on trusts.

Financial planning

If you need help with financial planning, such as preparing for your retirement, managing a property portfolio or any other form of wealth management, then an accountancy firm will be able to help.

Setting up a limited company

Most accountants and accountancy companies can help you set up a limited company. This then provides you with many advantages over sole trader status, such as paying less tax on your earnings and protecting yourself against any potential liabilities. Usually, this involves listing you as both the director and the shareholder of the company.

Need to find an accountant?

An example of a local accountancy company with books about income tax in their office

If you need help with any aspect of your business or personal finances then simply search for an accountant on Thomson Local. We provide accountant contact details, lists of services offered and reviews from previous customers. So you can always be sure that you're hiring someone your local community trusts.

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