How to Find the Right Accountant for Your Business

Choosing the right accountant is crucial for any business. This article explains various types of accountants and their pros and cons, helping business owners make informed decisions. Some of the categories we explore include Tax Vertical Experts, Tax Specialists for niche tax advice, Outsourced Finance Directors, Niche Vertical Accountants, and Compliance Accountants. The article also outlines areas of support, aiding businesses in selecting accountants tailored to their needs, stage, and budget.

Kieran James
August 22, 2023

Accountants are often seen as the people you go to when you need help with your taxes, but the truth is they do far more than that. If you’ve landed on this page, it’s likely that you’re either looking for your first accountant or looking for a new accountant. Depending on your stage in business, budget, business goals or financial acumen, one type of accountant might support you more appropriately than another. 

If you’re keen to delve deeper into how the stage you are at in business might affect your choice of accountant, It is also worth researching  “when to hire an accountant’.

Had we written this blog in 2019 we would have also included location as a factor, and for some there is a preference to work with an accountant they can meet face to face. But since 2020 most accountants now support clients remotely and therefore the choice of whether you should look for a local accountant has minimal influence on service level, but is more of a personal preference.

This blog provides information on finding the right accountant for your business. It explains the various types of accountants available, their respective pros and cons and outlines the different areas of support that they can assist with. The accountants include Tax Vertical Experts, Tax Specialists, Outsourced Finance Director / Finance Function, Niche Vertical Accountants, Compliance Accountants, Economies of Scale Accountants, Bookkeeping Firms, Generalist Accountants, and Audit firms.

Types of Accountant: 

1. Tax Vertical Experts

Some accountancy firms, especially larger ones, have staff that have an incredible depth of knowledge in very specific areas whilst having very little in other areas of accounting. The big four accounting firms are the most extreme examples of this. 


  • These are often larger firms with offices abroad meaning they can help if you are looking to set up companies cross-borders. In their particular area of expertise, advisors will know almost everything


  • Some of the highest costs.
  • Advisors may not take into account other implications. E.g. A VAT expert will discuss VAT implications but not know that Corporation Tax is also affected.

2. Tax Specialist

Some firms are boutique tax specialists, they will rarely do your compliance work (submissions of accounts and tax returns), but offer a specific service aimed at providing advice around niche tax areas. They also sometimes work via partnerships with other accountants.


  • Often exceptional at tax, especially identifying the implications of a given action or advice across various taxes.
  • They can often help with more niche taxes such as double taxation treaties or specific VAT exemptions.


  • Often the highest cost accountant
  • Most accountants can deal with a good proportion of tax advice, especially more general tax advice so a specialist isn’t always needed
  • Rarely support outside of tax, so they won't be submitting your accounts

3. Outsourced Finance Director / Finance Function

These firms focus on the commercial impact of their advice, These often have the most commercial impact.


  • Very good for fast growing and ambitious businesses.
  • Generally well versed in growth strategies and connecting the dots between accounting and business.
  • Increase efficiency so they often save a lot of costs and human error in a finance department.
  • They are generally knowledgeable about the tax implications for clients and industries they work with 
    Stryde operates as this type of accountant.


  • Need to work with tax specialists for more niche tax advice. 
  • Sometimes a higher price than some accountants such as Generalists, Compliance, Economies of Scale and Bookkeeping Firms (see below).

4. Niche Vertical Accountant

These firms focus on one particular niche and try to understand it really well. They often refuse clients from any other area and provide wider support related to the industry they work in.


  • Have a lot of industry/sector knowledge that can add value to a business beyond accountancy.


  • Not great for people who have multiple business interests or want to diversify outside the given niche
  • Advice is industry specific so knowledge can sometimes be siloed. 

5. Compliance Accountant

These firms focus on delivering returns to HMRC and Companies House only, they don’t provide any additional advice. Many Compliance accountants also fit into the Economies of Scale type.


  • Often quite cheap
  • Usually very simple to work with


  • You pay for what you get. There is limited or no advice provided around tax and/or forward planning.

6. Economies of Scale

These accountants are very clear that they are focused on providing the cheapest service they can. They sometimes have their own software as part of this. Many payroll specific firms fit into this category. 


  • For simple businesses they do this very well and at a very low cost


  • They tend to have low attention to detail and try to fit every customer into a predefined structure and process to help with keeping the cost down.

7. Bookkeeping firms

Not actually accountants but often mistaken for accountants, they complete data entry tasks and occasionally also complete VAT returns. They are often combined with a compliance or generalist accountant.


  • Focused on data, often the most cost effective for bookkeeping specific services. 


  • Not actually an accountant so rarely have depth of knowledge.

8. Generalist Accountant

The majority of accountants fit into this category, they try to be all things to all people.


  • If the person you deal with is high quality and attentive then you can have a good experience, but no real benefit over other types of accountants.


  • It's real potluck what you get. They attempt to do all of the above, but rarely do anything particularly well.

9. Audit

An Audit firm is specifically qualified to carry out audits.

Small companies are generally exempt, these are companies where two or more of the following criteria are met for two consecutive financial years:

  • turnover is no more than £10.2m
  • total assets are not more than £5.1m 
  • average number of employees

The rules are different for charities, these can be found here:


  • Only firms qualified to complete audits can do them
  • It is a legal requirement that Audit firms can help you with


  • Seen as unethical to use the same firm for both audit and general accounts so this is often an additional relationship.

Areas of Support

The following list isn’t an exact science, but a guide to what is commonly seen, some accountants try to be more than one ‘type’ of accountant. It’s also worth noting that most accountants can, to some degree complete all of the following tasks, and if price is a primary decision making factor then it may be that an economies of scale accountant, generalist or compliance accountant could work. But we have chosen to highlight  who will generally give you the best advice assuming quality is the primary goal. The areas an accountant can help you with at this stage are:

1. Business Structure

Choosing the most appropriate legal entity (e.g. sole trader, limited company, limited liability partnership) and identifying share class structure (limited company) including relevance of holdings company/subsidiaries.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Niche Vertical Accountant 
  • Vertical Expert (If you have significant cash and operate across multiple countries immediately)

2. Business Tax Planning

Depending on your initial startup/pre-startup costs you may benefit from planning around VAT. 

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Niche Vertical Accountant
  • Some Generalist Accountants 

3. Personal Tax Planning

Tax planning around inheritance tax, estates, expat, trusts and foreign taxation. 

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Specialist Tax Accountants
  • Tax Vertical Experts

4. Business Planning

If you are looking to gain funding through debt or equity you may require a business plan and/or cash flow forecast.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Niche Vertical Accountant (if below £25k)
  • Some Generalist Accountants (if below £25k)

5. Financial System Set Up

Setting up your software and connecting with relevant peripheral apps E.g. Xero with Dext and Shopify for ecommerce.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Niche Vertical Accountants

6. Financial Process Set Up

Ensure effective financial processes so they are efficient, reduce the risk of error and ensure they are connected wider than just the financial systems.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function

7. Incorporation and Registrations

Actual incorporation (without advice) and registrations for taxes to ensure you're complaint.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Niche Vertical Accountants
  • Generalist Accountants
  • Compliance Accountants
  • Economies of Scale Accountants
  • Some Bookkeeping Firms

8. Business Advice

Offering business advice wider than accounting to help you to set up and start your business. Examples could include how to market/sell, operational structures, identifying networking events and more.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Niche Vertical Accountants
  • Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Some Generalist Accountants

9. Investor Conversations

Attending investor pitches to discuss forecasts and projections and working with founders on their own presentations.

Best Type Of Accountant to Help

  • Some Outsourced Finance Director/Finance Function
  • Some Generalist Accountants
  • Some Niche Vertical Accountants

In conclusion, choosing the right accountant for your business can have quite the impact, considering the various types available and their specific strengths and limitations. Depending on your business's stage, budget, area(s) of support required and goals, you can opt for Tax Vertical Experts for specialised tax needs, Outsourced Finance Directors for strategic financial guidance, systems, process support or a complete finance function, Niche Vertical Accountants for industry-specific knowledge, Compliance Accountants for simple tax filings, and Economies of Scale Accountants for cost-effective solutions. Carefully assessing the variables presented will help you find the ideal accountant to contribute to your business's success and financial well-being.

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