How to change your accountant

If you are considering changing your accountant, whether that is due to a change in yours (or their) circumstances, or perhaps you are dissatisfied with the service you have been receiving from them, there is a procedure which needs to be followed to ‘disengage’ with your existing accountant before ‘engaging’ the services of a new one.

We will take you through that process in a moment, but before you get to the formalities of changing accountant, you need to make sure that your new accountant will meet your needs. This can be done in two-ways. The first is to ask friends, family or business associates if they would recommend their accountant. Ideally, try to get recommendations based on a like for like service provision, i.e. if you want an accountant to work with your business, ask people associated with similar size businesses to give their recommendations, as opposed to someone who only uses an accountant for say their personal tax returns.

The second way is using Google searches to find a suitable accountant who will meet your needs. This might involve searching for an accountant in your local area, or a firm who specialises in your particular sector, or a firm that has the qualifications and experience to give you the reassurance that your tax, accounting and financial affairs will be in good hands.

Once you have a short list of possible ‘new’ accountants, the next part of the process is to speak to those accountants, and in particular the partners who have either been personally recommended, or from your web-based research, appear to have the expertise you need. It is only by talking to someone that you will be able to get to know them, ask questions which are relevant to your situation and ultimately decide if you think you will be able to work together.

The process for changing accountants

Once your mind is made up, you then must go through the following process:

  • Tell your current accountant that you want to move to say ‘Wilkinson & Partners Chartered Accountants’ for example! Ideally, this should be in a written format, by letter or email. You should also provide them with our contact details and give permission for them to speak directly to us. If you are not sure what to write, we can draft the letter for you.
  • Your current accountant will then send you a disengagement letter which should outline the work they have done for you, key dates and information which we need to be aware of. You will be asked to sign this disengagement letter to confirm your intention to leave them.
  • Let us know when you have signed and sent the disengagement letter. We will then write to your current accountant to ask for ‘Professional Clearance’ so that we can act for you. We will also ask your accountant for copies of your papers and documentation including accounts and tax returns and online accounting details, where appropriate. As part of the professional clearance process, we are obliged to ask your current accountant if there are any reasons why we should not act for you. This is just a formality and does not usually give rise to any issues, but it is important that you are aware of this.
  • We will then send you an engagement letter which will set out the basis of our working relationship with you. We will also detail the work we will be doing for you and issue you with a copy of our standard terms of business. You will need to read, sign and confirm your acceptance of these engagement terms. During this engagement process, we will carry out the appropriate money laundering checks on you.
  • Finally, when the new engagement process has been finalised, we will ask for your authority for us to file your tax returns and communicate with HMRC on your behalf. This is done by getting you to sign a ’64-8’ authority form.

It starts with a conversation

If you are considering changing your accountant, start the process by having a conversation with us. We offer a free initial consultation, and you are under no obligation to take things any further. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your personal or business circumstances and how we can help you.

If you are looking to move to Wilkinson & Partners, we aim to make this transition as seamless as possible. Contact our Bingley office on 01274 518200 or our Ilkley office on 01943 817045, or you can email us at: