Having good communication with your accountant is essential for making sure the financial part of the business runs as smoothly and effectively as possible. It's also the best way of reducing the risk of them holding back information from you, and being able to spot it if they are.
However, this can often be difficult to achieve. As a financial director (FD), you have a number of other responsibilities and so it can be a challenge to get the information you need from your accountants in a timely but helpful manner.
So how can you get the most out of these interactions, and ensure that what your accountants are telling you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Schedule regular chats
It may seem much easier to just grab a chat with your accountant when you need them, but this can come across as disrespectful to their role and the time commitments they have. Scheduling regular mini-meetings with them allows you to both put a time in your calendars and talk through what matters you need to discuss.
This also gives you the chance to set out some questions that you need answering, and there will be less risk of something being forgotten or left out. It may be that you find having a five minute chat first thing each morning over email or instant messenger is more productive for the both of you; the important thing is finding a solution that fits both of your working styles.
Being an accountant isn't an easy job, as often you have to tell people things they really don't want to hear, but it's important for you that you get the honest truth - no matter how brutal - from them. To give you both an easier time, you need to encourage transparency between the two of you.
If the finances aren't where they should be, or your accountant has made a mistake, it's important to not dwell on it but instead position it as a learning opportunity. A crucial part of this is making sure you hold your hands up when you've made your own mistakes. This is key to any successful working relationship, but is crucial for those working in finance.
Always ask for their input
Accountants are skilled and qualified professionals and you need to communicate with them as such. You'll benefit by getting the best out of them, as happy employees perform the best, and they will get much higher job satisfaction. Wherever there is the opportunity, ask them about what they would suggest.
Even if this doesn't end up being the solution, it's important that they feel that their opinion is taken into account and their view is respected. This also encourages a better working relationship, making it easier for them to come to you with bad or unpleasant news.