Frequently Asked Questions

What questions should I ask the experts?

Initially, I would suggest that you briefly outline your concern and the advice or service required. This gives our experts the time to review your email and establish how best to assist you.

You should get a response back fairly quickly suggesting ways in which they can assist or indicating that they have referred the matter on to a colleague who is more qualified to answer the question.

We suggest that you give the expert your broad location e.g London, Edinburgh, Paris, Dubai or wherever but only give your first name or a pseudonym. This retains your anonymity but gives the expert some idea of your whereabouts from the practical perspective for holdings meetings.

The expert may seek further details to which you can respond. Remember that you will continue to be anonymous as far as the expert is concerned until you decide to provide your contact details.

The user should establish with the expert's help, a clear idea of the solution being proposed. This may take a number of emails but it is worthwhile making a full enquiry at this early stage. You may come up with a better solution to the problem.

The following questions may be appropriate :-

  • Who will actually by undertaking the work and the timescale involved?
  • What is the hourly charge out rate which is charged for each grade of employee and the likely hours?
  • Does the expert have other clients in a similar position?
  • Is the work complex and if so what are the areas of complexity?
  • How long has he/she been doing this type of work?
  • Does the expert have a website or an App which you could look at?
  • Are there a number of solutions to the problems raised?
  • Do you have a number of clients who would be prepared to give references and with whom you could speak?
  • Do you have any examples of similar work recently completed by you for clients?
  • Is the expert a member of a professional body and do they hold a practising certificate?
  • Is the expert regulated by a relevant body?
  • What level of professional indemnity cover do they currently have?
  • What technical expertise or training does the expert have in this particular field?
  • Do you have any pending disputes with clients, suppliers or employees?
  • Would a letter of engagement be issued and if so, could a basic draft be emailed to you?
  • Are there any additional benefits which the expert considers unique to his/her practice?

Many of these questions should be answered automatically by the expert without prompting but it is worthwhile that all these areas are dealt with satisfactorily before progressing matters further.

The expert should be taking the opportunity of identifying the reasons why he/she is most suitable for undertaking the work required. If they are not then this raises the obvious question of 'why not?'

Fee charging

You should make enquiries into how much the expert will charge so that a comparison can be made between a number of experts. You may not necessarily go with the cheapest as there may be sound reasons for choosing one of the other experts who responded to your enquiry.

If you want a piece of work completed for a fixed fee then you should raise this matter after the necessary work has been clearly identified, so you have a clear idea of the service to be provided for that fixed fee.

Once the complexity and the level of service has been identified then you could suggest a fixed fee. For example, the completion and submission to HMRC of a simple tax return could be agreed at £175. However, even large company accounts preparation and audits as well as liquidations fees running into tens of thousands of pounds are often dealt with under some form of fixed fee arrangement.

Fees tend to fluctuate amongst members of the same profession for a number of reasons including the level of overheads being incurred For example ; A city based practitioner may have high rents and rates compared to a practitioner who is out of town.

If matters are more technical or are to be carried out over a longer time frame then a budget could be agreed between the user and the expert within which the fees would fall, subject to any unforeseen circumstances. This provides the user with the protection that the experts fees will not exceeds the budgeted figure.

Final piece of advice is don't rush to find the right accountant, solicitor, barrister, architect, estate agent, mortgage consultant, insolvency practitioner, stockbroker, actuary, pensions adviser, tax consultant bank, insurance broker, quantity surveyor, etc.

By putting the word out through Ownse, you should be able to find the right adviser for you and your circumstances, within a reasonable time frame. Professional relationships tend to last a long time so sound advice from the start is imperative.

Some questions you will need to ask may appear a bit cheeky but Ownse is the ideal environment for you to identify the right expert, providing the right service, at the right price.