We all want to work smarter instead of harder.
As a business owner, partnering with a qualified accounting firm helps you do just that. A team of CPAs can help you make smarter business decisions for the future of your company, utilizing your resources in the most efficient manner.
A full-service accounting firm can assist you with any of your financial needs, such as:
- Budget development
- Goal setting
- Tax planning
- Financial advice
With the support of a CPA team, you'll be better prepared and more confident in growing your business. Like searching for the right job candidate, it’s vital to research and interview potential CPA partners to find the best fit. Below are some characteristics to look for.
Some firms charge by the task (developing statements, filing a tax return, etc.) and others by the minute, which could get pricey if you need routine advice. Determine your needs and understand how any potential accounting firm charges.
Industry or Niche Expertise
Specific industries can have specialized accounting needs. For example, a company in the medical industry faces different accounting and tax implications than one in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry. Ask potential CPA partners how many other businesses like yours they’ve helped.
If you want more than tax filing help from your accountant and prefer a partner to help you make across-the-board financial decisions, look for a firm offering a wide range of services. The broader your accounting demands, the more benefits you’ll find with a general accounting group employing certified public accountants.
With some firms, you tell them what you need, and they’ll complete the task, such as creating financial reports. However, if you need an advisor, search for a firm offering in-depth guidance for a more proactive and holistic approach to your business.
Specialized, Scalable Services
As your business grows and evolves, so will your accounting challenges. What may start as a basic bookkeeping task could become a host of complicated financial duties as you mature.
Routine jobs, like bookkeeping services, can be more inexpensively completed by a bookkeeper than by a CPA. Look for an accounting partner who can scale their services to fit you, cost-effectively meeting you where you are now and then allowing you to add services as you grow.
Ask your potential CPA partners about how they communicate with clients. A firm that reflects back on the year with you after you’ve filed your taxes is very different from one with spur-of-the-moment availability for business questions requiring timely responses.
Will you have one point of contact, or will your call get handled by whatever representative answers the phone that day? Must you schedule a meeting each time you have a question, or can you call (or visit) as necessary? Also, determine if you want someone local you can personally call upon with documents in hand, or if virtual visits with a firm in another region/state/time zone are okay.
Relationship and Connection
As with any relationship, you’re hoping to mesh well together. Look for a CPA firm that speaks your language, understands your industry, and seems to anticipate your needs before you even know them yourself. A good partner will advise you without being intimidating. They’ll instill confidence while educating you to make the best decisions.
Who couldn’t use the extra help and foresight with goal-setting and achievement?! Young and growing businesses might find these services especially helpful and insightful. Learn your potential firm’s approach to helping you set appropriate goals and their fees for doing so.
More likely than not, your business will be audited by the IRS. When that happens, having a CPA in your corner for assistance, representation, and support is reassuring. Your accounting firm of choice could even perform periodic audits for you so that you have that extra certainty your accounts are spotless.
The best tell-tale sign of an excellent CPA firm is its reviews from peers and businesses like yours. Listen to who your friends are touting as a great CPA partner. At the very least, learn who to steer clear of.
The Best CPA
The best accounting firm is one that closely aligns with your needs. Some are proactive, helping you achieve a clear financial vision, while others are more reactive, waiting on instructions from you. Determine what you need in a CPA partner, and then ask questions to learn if your candidate fits the bill.
Remember that getting to know a partner and building a relationship takes patience. At the same time, it’s also okay to continue searching for the one best suited to your business needs. In other words, you aren’t automatically stuck with your first pick if the two of you aren’t in unison after you’ve given it time and opportunity. Just keep trying because the right one for you is out there.