For the moment it may be nothing more than a pipe dream – but each of you reading this will no doubt have at some point fantasised about running your own accountancy practice. Being the big boss means you can take on as many or as few clients as you want, without the hassle of meeting targets or having to make the tea for a whole team.
In reality though, setting up an accountancy firm – whether you’re going solo or joining up with others to start a small practice – can be a huge undertaking. Before you can even start scoping out a new office or just clearing off a desk at home from which to work, you need to make sure that you have all the proper guidelines and registries in place.
Compliance is key
When going into practice you’re basically taking responsibility for the auditing and analyses of a great deal of legal and financial paperwork; are you properly licensed and able to take on this sort of work? You need to consider the industry standard guidelines such as having a practising certificate, complying with the Practice Assurance framework offered by regulators ICAEW and other legal requirements such as registering with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under the Data Protection Act; after all, you’re going to be handling nothing but others’ data so you need to ensure you’re taking the right steps to keep it safe.
Basically, being compliant with all the rules and regulations required of opening an accountancy firm will lead to a lot of red tape and paperwork – but you love all that; otherwise why be an accountant?
Of course, even the most organised and trustworthy firm knows that mistakes can still happen – and in the high-risk, high-pressure field of accountancy it helps to have a safety net. Professional indemnity insurance for accountants is mandatory for most firms who require certification from one of the profession’s major regulatory bodies, so it pays to take out an insurance plan which will see you protected in case of any errors no matter how small. The fundamentals of accounting for a company require the sharing of sensitive financial information; if you incorrectly handle this data or fudge the report, your practice could face severe legal penalties. Having this insurance in place, coupled with more everyday business insurance such as that to protect against theft or damage to yours or another’s property, or even to mitigate personal injury around the office, makes good business sense.
Once these legal paper trails are all put in place, you can begin to consider how best to offer your services to clients, and then get down to the fun stuff like sorting out an office!