Managing your wealth – comparing the roles of financial planners and accountants


If you are looking for someone to help you manage your finances, and support you with your financial planning, it’s understandable that you’ll consider both an accountant and a financial planner.

Let’s look at how both work and compare and contrast the types of advice they can offer when it comes to managing your finances.

The role of accountants – the numbers game

An accountant will have three key roles when it comes to you and your finances:

  • Carry out an annual audit of your accounts.
  • Provide advice on taxation and suggest the best way to manage your money to minimise your tax liability.
  • Manage your books on an ongoing basis.

If you have your own business, they will also help you with inventory accounting and financial forecasting. This enables you to make informed financial decisions regarding the direction and future of your company.

Even if you don’t own a business, as a high net worth individual employing the services of an accountant can be invaluable. They will help you keep your financial affairs in order. This can be particularly important if your personal finances are complex – for example, if you have earnings from more than one source and in different countries with different taxation regimes.

This is very much the case if you own rental property. An accountant will provide invaluable support and advice, much like owning your own business. They will help you with the books and the tax implications. This can be even more beneficial if the property is in the UK and you are currently working abroad.

In short, you will want an accountant to support you if your tax affairs are in any way complex. Mistakes can be costly and the amount you pay an accountant for advice and support can repay itself many times over in terms of saving you from expensive, and avoidable, errors.

The role of a financial planner – seeing the wider picture

Perhaps the best way to describe the role of a financial planner is to look at how we at Charlton House see our role when it comes to advising you about your finances.

For us, it’s more than simply about helping you manage your investments. Instead, we work with you to understand what your financial goals are, both now and in the future. Once we understand your goals, we will put together a personalised financial plan that will help you to achieve them.

We will then update that plan regularly as your circumstances, and financial objectives, change.

Everyone’s finances are unique, so the plans we put together will be bespoke for you and your situation.

There are four key areas that we focus on:

  • Investment management – how and where you invest your money.
  • Retirement planning – ensuring that you have the right arrangements in place to help you achieve the lifestyle you want when you stop working.
  • Estate and inheritance planning – taking the necessary steps to ensure that your heirs get more of your wealth than the taxman when you pass on.
  • Facilitating maximum tax-efficiency – at each step, making sure you are minimising the amount of tax you’re paying and keeping as much of your hard-earned wealth as possible.

Under those four key headings, there will be a myriad of issues and factors that will have a bearing on the advice we give and the decisions you make.

For example, we will consider UK taxation legislation, and how it impacts on your financial position. As it changes, and it constantly will, we will interpret those changes and make sure your plans change to reflect these. We’ll warn of potential pitfalls and flag up any opportunities that we think you should be taking advantage of.

The best of both worlds

If you’re wondering whether you need to employ the services of an accountant or a financial planner, it’s likely that the answer is both.

There’s no reason at all why you should not use both, especially if your financial affairs are complex and therefore your taxation is more complicated than a straightforward tax return would cover.

Financial planners and accountants can provide a complementary service. In simple terms an accountant can look at your books and accounts and tell you how much you can spend, save, and invest. A financial planner will tell you the best way to do that.

If you own your own business, your accountant and financial planner should be working together with you to help you stay on track financially.

It is important that you can trust both. They should be able to explain any issues regarding your finances in a way that you understand.

This is particularly important if you are a Brit living or working abroad. The accountant and financial planner you work with need to have specialist knowledge of the financial and tax regulations of the country you’re working in. They also need to be cognisant of how these can impact on your wider financial position – especially if you have substantial assets in both countries.

You should carefully choose both your accountant and financial planner. Hire the best fit for your business and personal situation so you can be in control of your financial future.

Get in touch

We can help you with all aspects of financial planning, and are uniquely placed to support you, with offices in the UK and Hong Kong.

Please contact us by email or, if you prefer to speak to us, you can reach us in the UK on +44 (0) 208 0044900 or in Hong Kong on +852 39039004.

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