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How to choose a professional adviser

Every business must at some point rely on a professional adviser. Read our top tips for choosing the right professional team to advise you.

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Every business must, to some degree, rely on the advice of professional advisers such as solicitors and advisers. In this article, we reveal top tips for choosing the right professional team to advise you. Check out their website Do you prefer a traditional adviser or a more modern, relaxed approach? Do they even have a website? Unbelievably in the 21st century, there are still solicitors who don't think a website is necessary - what does that say about their business and ability to deliver the right service? Bear in mind that the quality of their website will significantly affect their ability to recruit and retain staff. Almost anyone going to work these days for a solicitor or accountant will first look at their website - quality candidates are unlikely to join a firm with a poor website not updated for years. Do they have relevant experience? How long have they been in business? Are they specialists? Do they have particular experience of your type of business? Are they members of any relevant panels? Have they been recommended to you? Word-of-mouth recommendation is the simplest and often best way to pick your adviser. Ask friends, colleagues or existing advisers whom you trust. Your accountant, for example, can probably recommend a solicitor with experience of the kind you seek. Do they communicate? It may sound simple but the biggest criticism of solicitors is usually not the size of their fees but the inability of some solicitors to keep in touch with clients. Ask a solicitor or accountant whether they keep in touch regularly. Are they proactive? An adviser who can, where appropriate, drive issues forward is always preferable to one who sits there waiting to things to happen and lets matters drift. Does your solicitor send out regular email newsletter updates? Does your accountant offer regular tax-saving tips seminars? These are signs of someone who is more likely to help you achieve your business aims. Working together to build your business Referrals are the lifeblood of many businesses - does your solicitor or banker refer clients to you? If they don't, and yours is the kind of business open to such referrals, you might look for an alternative adviser. You are the customer Never forget that your money pays the bills and that you are entitled to define exactly what you want from your business relationship. Do you want fixed fees or prefer paying an hourly rate? Are there deadlines you want your adviser to keep, e.g. do you want your accountant to get your tax return ready a month before the final deadline rather than leave it until a panicked scramble the night? Do you expect to be updated with regular newsletters and seminars? What is your preferred communication method - if you rely on email, you are unlikely to get on with a solicitor who doesn't even have his own email address. Do you want a fixed price to include unlimited telephone advice during the year? Do you want a package of services for a fixed price? For further advice and information, find out how the Forum of Private Business can help. Call us on 0845 130 1722.

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