Some accountants insist you sign 'Terms of Agreement'. These are usually unnecessarily long and therefore they are unlikely to be fully read and understood. In any case, many of them are little more than a get-out clause to shift the blame for any problems over to you.
We don't work in this way. Instead, here is a short list of the things that we should both be able to take for granted between us. By instructing us, you agree to these terms:
1 You must provide us with all the paperwork, books and documentation required for the accounts, returns and/or other reports to be prepared. We are happy to discuss what is required in advance.
2 Remember that we act as agents between you and the authorities, who have wide powers of inspection. This means we have no options regarding many aspects of our work and hence our charges. You must not withhold anything and you must tell us about everything that may affect the production of correct accounts, returns etc.
3 Once we both agree that we have all the necessary information and explanations, we will prepare accounts, return(s) and/or other reports to comply with the relevant legislation (or to meet your specification, where applicable). We will use our professional knowledge and experience to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible. In order to do so, we must follow certain routines and procedures in all cases. We will contact you during the job if we have any questions.
4 All our charges are time-based, which we believe is the fairest method. As it is impossible to know in advance precisely how long a particular job will take, we give estimates, not quotes. Such estimates are based on long experience of a wide variety of clients' circumstances but obviously we cannot guarantee that your work will be as expected. However in most cases we are able to give a first year maximum fees guarantee.
5 Keeping to these terms will result in the lowest charges but you must understand that we will charge for all necessary time taken on your work, irrespective of any estimates given. Such time may include unexpected aspects outside what was discussed at the initial consultation.
6 Our initial consultation meeting is genuinely free and never charged at a later date; and we take care not to charge for dealing with brief telephone or email enquiries, because we do not wish to discourage effective and efficient communications with our clients.
7 Payment is due 14 days after receipt of our invoice, on which the Due Date is clearly shown. You must make provision for this; our Credit Control Manager will pursue all late payments immediately. We will only consider invoicing queries if raised before the Due Date.
8 We reserve the right to carry out credit checks on you and/or your business.