July 23rd, 2015
The first step in choosing an accountant for your business is to get clear on what it is that you need.
Are you looking for strategic advice regarding business formation, financial strategies, retirement planning, or are you simply looking for someone to prepare your annual tax return?
Are you seeking an accountant who will have a long-term role as an advisor to you or your business, or are you looking for piecemeal advice or information (i.e. limited services)?
Do you need some heavy lifting done with complex tax strategy and finding opportunities for tax savings, or do you need an accountant that simply helps you review the books and prepare end-of-year financial statements?
Do you need an accountant with a narrow, but fully developed specialty, or are you better served by an accountant or accounting firm that provides a wide range of services?
By getting really clear on what services you require, either personally or in your business, you will collect better referrals by stating exactly what it is that you need.
Know Your Qualifiers.
Other qualifiers to consider, which will help you narrow your selections and potential interviewees, include firm size, industry expertise or specialty, and certifications. Are you more comfortable working with a partner of a small accounting firm, or do you prefer working with a big-name firm? Do you require certain industry expertise? As with all industries, there are a wide variety of specialties within the tax world. It may be most helpful to get referrals from others similarly situated, or a step or two ahead of you, in your industry, or from other professionals who work closely with your industry, such as your business banker, business attorney, financial planner, or other colleagues. Do you prefer to work with a certified CPA or CMA, or is a non-certified accountant with experience sufficient for preparing financial statements or helping with next year’s books?
Finally, consider personality traits, reference checks or referral sources, and fees. Do you require an accountant with a more aggressive approach to financial planning or tax savings, (and how would they handle an audit), or do you work most comfortably with a primarily conservative personality? What do other clients have to say about the accountant’s or firm’s services? Do you know who will actually be performing the work? (Some large firms outsource part of their work.) What is their fee structure like? Do they charge hourly, or do they provide services subject to a monthly retainer requirement for business clients?
A bit of quick preparation can help you in finding just the right fit for your accounting needs. Start with getting clear on the services you require, gathering referrals from the right sources, and then finally asking the right follow-up questions to get connected with the right accountant for your personal and business needs.
For more information about Business Planning, visit these blog posts.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS POST MAY CONTAIN LEGAL INFORMATION, BUT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. NO RELATIONSHIP, INCLUDING ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, HAS BEEN FORMED AS A RESULT OF THIS POST. YOU ARE ADVISED TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY LICENSED IN YOUR STATE IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.