?In general, when looking for something, decisions are made on the basis of the locality, an advert found in the phonebook or recommendations from family, friends and colleagues. Generally speaking that's not a problem what so ever, but when it comes down to the choice of an accountant, (chartered, tax, etc.), most people don't really know what they should be looking out for in their search. Remember, these are the people you are handing your financial records over. Taking the time to find out something about the company you select will make all the difference between an accountant who is just doing their job and one who will be loyal and inventive. If you need help with your yearly tax return or run a business that requires employing an accountant, then it can be quite a mission to find a competent accounting firm offering professional and expert help. An accountant can be invaluable if you are self-employed or running a business. Some of the services they offer include completing tax returns, keeping company accounts, financial planning, auditing and book-keeping and advice on anything from buying new machinery to selling shares to the general public. Rules, regulations and laws are constantly changing. If you already have your own business or are in the process of setting one up then you know how important it is to be up to date. This is where the accountant comes in. These professionals are the ones that are aware of the current changes concerning financial activities that might affect your business. With a capable accountant you can be sure your business is in good hands so you'll never have any problems with the complicated changes by governments on how to fill out tax returns and the penalties imposed if other financial commitments are not taken care of. Accountants can save you from spending your valuable time by maintaining all the essential paperwork for you and they even advice you on ways to cut costs. For example, because a dependable accountant will be up to date on tax laws and legislation, they will save your business quit a lot of money. It's crucial to select an accountant fitted to your company as they will not only keep the records and finances updated and in order but can also smooth the progress of expansion. To find the right accountant is the difficult part. The first place to start is on the internet. Preferably you want an accountant in your local area that has been established for a number of years, this will enable you to meet them face to face to discuss your needs and requirements and check out their reputation and qualifications. Ask around colleagues and business owners in similar industries for their recommendations and opinion. You could also ask your financial planner, bank and insurance agent for their advice. There are only a few companies in Australia which offer an accounting firm referral service. These firms can find you professional help in your local area for free. Make sure that the members of their network are fully qualified Chartered Accountants or Certified Practicing Accountants. If you are searching for a general chartered accountant or require a specialist, they should be able to help you locate one in a location of your choice. They can provide a range of accountancy services, from financial planning to trust accounting, from setting up a company and auditing to superannuation. Always check for accreditation from an officially recognized body, especially if you are thinking of selecting an individual accountant. Only registered agents are allowed to charge for preparing or lodging a tax return. If you worry about the costs of an accountant then keep the following in mind. Large accountancy firms might have the advantage of offering their services at more competitive rates, whereas a smaller company could provide a more personable service and commit more time to your account. Thus the question is; do you want quality or quantity? Don't hold back on contacting a firm to ask questions and advice before making that decision. Chew over the area you need advice or help in as companies often specialize in particular fields, for example if you are setting up a small clothing company, the accountancy firm you select should be clued-up and have some clients and thus experience in this sector. Find an accountant or an accountant firm that responds quickly to your questions, speaks your language and has an understanding of your industry. An accountant is not just a tax specialist, but they can offer advice and guidance that can lead your business in the right direction and into the future, if you ask for it. Handing your financial records over to someone you don't know involves a lot of trust and co-operation. It has to feel right. Michiel Van Kets provides articles for Adrian Raftery who is the owner of the website accountantsRus. Adrian is an expert in finding the right accountant firm in Australia for you. If you need tofind an accountant this is where to look.