You never really think about finding an accountant until you actually need one, so how do you know you’re choosing the right one? If you’re worried about working with an accountant who won’t give you unbiased information or who doesn’t take your concerns seriously, here are some tips on how to find a good accountant.
Finding An Accountant
If you’re looking for an accountant, make sure they have experience with startups and small businesses. Ask them about their process for getting new clients if they don’t ask questions about your business, that could be a sign that they aren’t interested in forming long-term relationships.
The best way to make sure someone is committed to your success is by meeting with them and talking through how much time you will be spending together (and what it will cost).
You should also know how flexible they are when it comes to meeting times accountants often deal with emergencies, so being available via email or text at odd hours can help prevent disasters from escalating into major issues.
Interview Your Candidates
Don’t take your tax guy or gal at face value. Interview them don’t just leave it up to your CPA network, as everyone has their favorites, and there’s no way of knowing whether those relationships are founded on integrity.
A simple Google search will get you started but ask for references and personal contacts (they should be able to hand over some names). Then follow up with phone calls and check out their LinkedIn profiles. Every detail counts: Are they, real people? Do they have other clients? How long have they been in business?
Follow Up With References
Accountants are in high demand, which means you can expect them to be pretty busy. And if your business isn’t paying for their services, that may mean they have little incentive to return your call immediately or at all. However, don’t let that deter you from reaching out when calling references, it’s important not to talk just about what they’re doing well (which is usually evident). Instead, ask how quickly they respond to clients and if they offer additional services that may benefit your business.
With over 1.7 million accountants in the US, how do you know which one is right for you? Finding an accountant that’s experienced and ethical can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.
Asking around (either online or through personal recommendations) is usually your best bet; if you need some extra help sorting through potential candidates, certain organizations also offer certifications for business professionals CPAs are licensed by each state and adhere to strict guidelines on standards of professional practice.
Offer Them A Trial Run
When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to predict how much your financial situation will change in the coming years. As such, you may not want to invest in an expensive subscription if you aren’t sure what your accounting needs will be down the road. It makes sense for many small businesses which often have unpredictable revenue and profits to hire freelancers or junior accountants who are just getting started themselves.
You can give them a trial run and if things go well, bring them on as employees or long-term contractors. However, if their work quality is poor, there isn’t much downside since you can stop working with them at any time without penalty.
Questions To Ask An Accountant
Before hiring an accountant, make sure you ask him or her these questions:
- 1. Do you have accounting experience?
- 2. Can I see copies of your past work?
- 3. What level of involvement do you want in my business?
- 4. Do you offer online services?
- 5. What do your fees cover and what do they not cover?
- 6. How quickly can I expect my business tax return to be prepared and mailed to me once I send it in?
- 7. Can we schedule meetings outside of regular business hours (i.e., evenings or weekends)?
- 8. Are there any problems with setting up direct deposits for tax payments to be made directly from my bank account?
- 9. Can I get free consultations when necessary instead of paying every time we meet?
What do you charge?
Start by asking for recommendations from friends, business associates, and networking contacts. Personal recommendations are your best bet for finding an accountant with a solid reputation. Once you’ve asked around, look at firms that specialize in your industry and compare their services you’ll probably want to make sure they have experience handling businesses like yours.
How much time will it take? answer: The amount of time you spend interviewing accountants depends on how many candidates you speak with and what their credentials are.