Do you use big firm that has a global reputation and a high price tag? Do you pick a local boutique accounting firm that is smaller and closer to home, offering more specialized and individual service? How do you know what is a good fit for you and your business? What are the questions to ask to know that you’re getting the best value?
These are all-important questions and require serious thought. Finding the right accountant is important because it is about a long-term relationship–you’re giving this person the keys to your finances and trusting them to steer you towards financial health and prosperity. This level of commitment requires more than a quick perusal of Google, as there is much at stake.
There are a lot of letters that someone can put on their business card CA, CPA, CGA, LPA, etc. These are important, as they differentiate an accountant as a credible and professional resource. You wouldn’t visit a doctor without a medical degree; you shouldn’t go to an accountant that hold a professional designation.
If you run a business you want an accountant who is familiar with your industry and the type of work you will be doing. The more experience your accountant has working with businesses in your industry the more they will be able to provide you with relevant and specific advice and financial guidance. Experience is a great way to know your accountant will be able to save you money with excellent tax planning because this isn’t “their first rodeo.”
There are benefits to big firms and there are benefits to small firms – you need the size that is right for you. Some professional accounting firms are franchises and some are independent—what best fits the needs of you and your business. In many cases, we hear clients stating that it is important to find a firm that is large enough to handle all of the needs and complexities of their business, but small enough that they are not just a number or shuffled off to a new junior staff each year.
Whether it’s a friend, trusted associate or an Internet search…there are many avenues to find a great accountant by doing some very basic research. Referrals are a great way to judge credibility and know the capabilities of a professional accounting firm.
Professional Accounting Firms will offer a variety of service—so know what you’re looking for. Does this firm provide everything you need or will you need to have another firm fill in the gaps. The more complex your accounting and tax needs, the more important it is that your accountant can provide all the services you need. Make sure that you think through all the services offered and the complexity of your needs to make sure that you won’t need three different accountants to meet all your needs.
A great professional accounting firm won’t be a single accountant doing all of your work. The best accountants have a team of professionals working for you to ensure that your business is served with a high standard and in a timely manner. Just like a doctor has a receptionist and nurses to help them with the work an accountant needs staff to work together in order to provide the best service and ensure that you are receiving a high level of value.
If you don’t understand your accountant or if you keep getting confused by what they’re saying it is likely not a fit. In today’s fast-paced world, it is critical that you receive timely and clear communication. This will allow you greater efficiency and allow you to focus on your business, rather than coaching your accountant through the process of what you need and when you need it.
Questions to Ask
- Who will be my primary contacts at the firm and will they change from year to year?
- What are the fees, what do they include, and do you anticipate any additional costs during the engagement?
- Do you have any other clients in my industry? What type of work do you do for them?
- If I have a problem throughout the year, who do I speak with and is there a cost?
- Tell me about the services that you offer and the expertise/experience on your team.
We hope that this post is helpful and has provided you with clarity on what things to look for when searching for a new Accountant and Accounting Firm. We would love the opportunity to assist you and are confident that we will pass the test!