Types of business advisers
Different types of advisers are available to help you with your financial, legal and other business needs. Professional advisers are bound by certain laws and registration requirements.
Accountants are one of the most common business advisers and businesses will usually seek advice from an accountant at least once a year. Accountants can give you advice about:
- starting, buying, growing or ending a business
- tax (including GST and BAS statements)
- income, deductions and concessions
- obligations to employees (including PAYG and superannuation)
- managing records
- managing finances.
Tax accountants must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. Ideally, your accountant should belong to a professional accounting body such as:
Good business bankers will have a thorough understanding of your business needs and can provide advice about:
- solutions for making and receiving payments
- managing cash flow
- payroll systems
- finance and loan options
- online banking services
- business credit cards
- investment strategies.
As well as offering advice on a range of banking products, your banker should also have broad business and financial knowledge. They should know what it takes for a business to succeed in a particular industry.
To see if a bank, building society or credit union is authorised to take your money, check the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's register of authorised deposit-taking institutions.
The term consultant describes a wide range of professionals with different skills or expertise who can give you advice about specific areas of your business (e.g. management, IT, human resources, sales and marketing etc.). Consultants generally work for a consultancy firm or are self-employed.
Consultants working in the same area will have different levels of experience and knowledge, and will charge different fees, so finding the right consultant is vital. Searching online directories (e.g. Yellow Pages) for business consultants will give you plenty of options, but to find the right person for the job you will need to carefully research their backgrounds, check references, read reviews and conduct interviews.
A financial adviser – also called a financial planner – can help you develop an overall financial strategy for your business. Your financial adviser's job is to collect detailed information about your financial situation and provide advice on investing, superannuation, retirement and succession planning, risk management, insurance and tax.
The Corporations Act 2001 requires financial advisers to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. You can check a licence using the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC's) professional registers for AFS licensees or AFS authorised representatives.
Getting the right insurance is an important part of managing your business's assets, employees and legal liability. Many businesses consult insurance brokers to help them make the right insurance choices. Qualified brokers understand the insurance market and can negotiate competitive policies on your behalf. They can put together a comprehensive and cost-effective insurance package for your business.
Insurance brokers in Australia must hold an AFS licence. You can check an insurance broker's licence using ASIC's professional registers for AFS licensees or AFS authorised representatives.
At some point all business owners are going to need legal advice. Lawyers have different areas of expertise and can help you with a range of issues at any stage of your business life cycle. Among other things, legal experts offer guidance in:
- choosing your business structure
- licensing and complying with regulations
- drafting and understanding contracts and legal documents
- protecting your intellectual property
- resolving disputes
- debt and bankruptcy
- insurance and finance
- ending your business.
Lawyers in Queensland must be qualified and hold a current practising certificate. It can be helpful to choose a solicitor with appropriate experience.
Mentoring in business refers to a relationship between an experienced business person (the mentor) and a business owner or employee. A business mentor acts as a role model, adviser, critic and consultant. Mentoring can be informal, with friends, family or business contacts providing support and advice when it's needed. You can also get involved with formal mentoring programs run through government or industry associations.
Find out more about business mentoring.