The difference between an average accountant and a great one

Recent research from Xero found that business owners wanted more proactive advice from their accountants, and crucially, they also said they wanted more industry knowledge from them as well. With that in mind, we explore the extra support, advice and specialist services on offer, and what ultimately distinguishes an average accountant from great accountants and business advisors out there in the market.

Many business owners still see their accountant as the person who crunches the numbers, but that’s no longer the case. Having an accountant that has transitioned into a more business advisory firm with a wide range of business owner clients and more importantly, one that gets involved beyond the numbers, can make a big difference to the potential growth of your business. Every conversation you have with your accountant should be an opportunity for you both to learn from one another, with the shared objective of helping your business to thrive and grow.

If they just produce your accounts and walk you through the numbers, without asking more questions about the business as a whole, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be getting the best advice or value from them.

Every conversation with your accountant should be an opportunity to learn and grow or improve your business. They should be your ‘trusted advisor’, for not only your accounts but all your business challenges, and hence the difference between accountants and true business advisors. Great advisors won’t only have a wide range of services and experts in-house but also great third party contacts. So, look for one that will be able to offer advice based on experience.

Below are some of the services and offerings all business owners should be looking for from their accountants and business advisors in order to ensure they’re getting a great one rather than an average one.

Strategic business planning

Having a clear, strategic plan will give clarity to everyone in your organisation and help you achieve your ambitions. However, delivering the plan shouldn’t only be down to the business owner. Having a strong relationship with your advisors can make a big difference. Someone who isn’t engrained in the day-to-day of the business and is independent can help ensure you stay on track with your plans. They should act as your ‘sounding board’ to talk about all aspects of the business and help make informed decisions.

An accountant who doesn’t understand your goals and can’t help you achieve them, simply can’t support you effectively or be a good all - round advisor.

Tax saving and planning

Your advisors should have an experienced team of tax professionals, who will not only ensure you’re following tax, but at the same time, will advise on how to plan, encourage and explain how you can save tax.

Aside from this, for many business owners, both personal and business tax planning can be complex, but comprehensive tax planning with a professional can provide greater clarity. Tax planning done well, before the tax year end, will not only give you a clear indication of your tax position for the year, but could also present you with opportunities to save tax or claim money back.

Business Performance Improvement (BPI)

Many businesses either don’t report the right metrics or pulling these metrics together can become a long and laborious process, meaning the information isn’t timely or useful. These metrics could be your month end process, sales data, cashflow forecasting, reporting trends or key KPIs. A great accountant and business advisory operation will have dedicated BPI professionals to advise on these areas and improve the processes and reporting in your business.


Strengthening your team, employee engagement, retaining people, diversity, succession plans, and employer brand will increase your profitability, commercial growth and reputation. But, they’re not areas you’d expect your accountant to be able to help with. Yet, this is such a critical area of your business and one of the biggest challenges many owners face. The difference is great accountants and business advisors recognise this and, in doing so, offer help and advice in these areas.

Gary Woodhall, Managing Director, Midlands
Gary Woodhall, Managing Director, Midlands


Your property requirements can be demanding and are often an essential element in the smooth running of your business. Whether it’s finding the right premises, claiming back Capital Allowances available, or negotiating costs, these will all have an impact on your business. Property services isn’t necessarily an offering you’d expect from your accountant, but managing this component effectively with your advisors is an essential element in the smooth running of your business.

Business ownership can be complex and demanding, with daily challenges ranging from financial management, business improvement, recruiting and retaining people, to managing property, funding growth or strategic planning. When challenges land at your feet and people are looking to you for the answers, having a great advisor by your side to support you as your business grows, is what will make the difference.

Fortus is a new brand of accountants and business advisors, with a proven track record of delivering support and advice to ambitious business owners and their organisations. The company’s roots stem from being accountants, but now with a much broader business advisory offering. The Fortus team recognised that a single speciality is no longer what business owners need and in doing so, aims to give people clarity, change the view of, and promote the value of true business advisors.

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