5 reasons to use your small independent accountancy firm
Often we discuss the importance of supporting independent businesses. Certainly this is the case at Ridgefield Consulting, because it’s clear that without them, there would be no need for us. However the types of business that most commonly spring to mind are shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Hardly do we consider independent service providers such as IT support, outsourced HR or accounting as part of this network of small businesses that also need support.
This year we’ve been selected as a top UK business as part of the national Small Business Saturday campaign. It is a particularly significant achievement for the team as our mission has always been to show we are just as capable as regional or national competitors in terms of our skills, knowledge and expertise, but it is our unique approach to working in an accountancy practice, our independent nature and commitment to client service which allow us to stand out. To be recognised is really a testament that we are achieving our goals. Alongside 99 other businesses in the country, we’ve been chosen for our contribution to the local community as well as our success as a small business.
Whilst there are many reasons to support independent businesses, we have chosen to talk about 5 purely from our own perspective.
1. Using an independent accountancy firm is much more beneficial for the local economy.
Do you ever wonder where your money goes when you pay a regional, national or even remote firm of accountants? Well if they’re profitable, then it’s likely to go to the shareholders and back into the company for further investment. However, when you put money into a small independent firm, it’s much more likely to get spent back within the community.
Ridgefield Consulting is still family-run to this day which means the only shareholders are the immediate family. Money is continually being put back into the local community whether it’s bacon sandwiches on a Monday morning from Taylors, taking the team for after work drinks at The Fishes on Friday, having a meal out with the family at Quod or even if it’s just going to the corner shop for a newspaper and some milk. In fact, official studies suggest that for every £10 spent on independent businesses, £50 goes back into the local economy so it’s more beneficial for everyone!
2. To an independent accountancy firm you are not just a client, we know you by name and more.
When it comes to using any accountant you will have to share private information such as your personal finances. It’s fair to expect that at the very least, they know you by name, but are you ever only Mr or Ms Smith or see a different accountant each time you visit the office, and never really sure who you’re dealing with?
At Ridgefield Consulting, you always get to meet with managing director Simon for an introduction and are assigned your own dedicated accountant – Grace, Mi Mon, Michael or Tracy – each with their own expertise in different areas of tax and accounting and are matched to meet your needs and goals. Not only do we know you by name, but we do our best to understand and build the type of relationship you would like to have with your accountant, whether that’s proactive suggestions and advice or in the background for support as and when you need. From picking up our clients from the train station, dropping off their paperwork direct to their house, catching up at events or meeting up with them at a football game, we hope not to be known as “just accountants” but as “the team at Ridgefield Consulting”.
3. As an independent accountancy firm we have to continually work hard to maintain our reputation.
We understand that some people choose to use large brands and chain stores because of their brand reputation. John Lewis is usually a good example of a store that provides good customer service, and this reputation is unlikely to change or suffer despite any individual’s poor experience. The same can be said at an even greater extent when we consider purely online companies such as Amazon. Even significantly bad product ratings are unlikely to deter people from using Amazon and will only likely affect sales of that product.
However, all feedback has a very real and impactful consequence for independent businesses. Therefore you will often find that they’re likely to go out of their way to provide the best possible product or service. We are deeply grateful for our client reviews and it’s certainly one thing people notice when they are looking for an accountant in Oxford. We take all feedback on board, and because we are small and independent, it means we can make changes much quicker than any large corporate entity.
4. Don’t limit your options – always consider an independent accountancy firm, even if they are small.
This has attracted a lot of media attention recently, especially in light of the Carillion collapse, but more so now than ever, the top 4 accountancy firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG) are no longer demonstrating top quality service. Especially with audit, business owners feel that they need to go to the so-called specialists. The truth is that an independent firm is just as capable as completing a thorough audit report so long as they have the right experience. Not only that, but you’ll be sure to save yourself a lot of money by using a small independent practice instead.
If anything, there is an abundance of choice in Oxford. Our key piece of advice for anyone who is looking for an accountant is to really focus on finding someone who is a good fit for you and your needs. Don’t just jump at the accountants with the big company name that you recognise, or the cheapest one-man band that you can find. Take the time to think about what you really want. If you’re the type of person who likes to be able to pick up the phone, ask questions and have an answer right there and then, will the accountant be able to accommodate that? Or if you are the type of person that dreads the tax deadline and leaves things to the last minute, will the accountant be able to cope and work fast enough to get it in to ensure you don’t receive any fines? If you have a business and you’re ambitious for growth, will the accountant have a unique perspective and valuable advice that can help you achieve that? These are all things to seriously consider.
5. The independent accountancy firm helps shape the community you want.
It’s not just about putting money back into the local economy which we’ve talked about. It’s about working with others to shape the community we all share. From our sponsorship to Independent Oxford, which helps people discover the wealth of independent businesses, to Oxford Entrepreneurs, who encourage young talent to realise their innovative ideas, we recognise that we can play a role in supporting those who help others.
Other ways in which we actively contribute to the community is that we try to accommodate as many work experience requests as possible. Accountancy is often regarded as a high skill profession and yet we find that many young people do not understand what it means to be a chartered accountant. We see it as our responsibility to share our knowledge and educate more people, as well as encourage young people to pursue a worthwhile career path.