How to Choose the Right Accountants
Tips for choosing an accountant for your business or family
Let’s face it, to be called a certified public accountant (CPA) one must have a certain educational background as well as proven knowledge (i.e., by passing a rigorous exam). We believe CPAs have the business acumen that allows them to prepare basic financial reports and tax returns. You may also expect your CPA to fill the role of business consultant to help you achieve certain business and personal results.
How do you know if a CPA is right for you?
You can start by asking the following questions:
- How many years of (corporate, partnership, individual, estate) tax experience do you have?
- If I use you/your firm, who will prepare my tax returns? Who will be working on my account?
- Do you hold any advanced degrees? What associations are you a member of?
- What if I am audited? Will you represent me? What are the additional costs?
- Will you review prior years tax returns at no additional charge?
- Do you have expertise in my industry or with a specific issue relevant to my facts and circumstances (i.e. stock options, government contracts, tax credits, etc.)?
- How do you bill for your services/what will you charge?
- What if I need accounting or bookkeeping help? Do you offer these services?
- What if I need a loan or credit line? How can you help me?
- If I decide to use you, what should I expect?
These basic questions should spark conversation that will not only provide you with the assurance that the CPA is qualified, but it should also provide insight as to how the CPA can help your business or family. This conversation should allow you to evaluate how the CPA can educate you and how the CPA will collaborate with you to help you achieve your goals. The CPA should be focused on understanding your needs and clearly communicating how his or her skills and expertise will help meet those needs.
Most CPAs will tell you they meet many of their new clients through referrals from existing clients or from other professional service providers such as attorneys, bankers and investment advisors. Other business owners, family and friends are also good sources to seek out for accountant recommendations. If you are unlucky finding a CPA through referral, you can try your state’s CPA society as it will likely have a directory of its members. You can also check the CPA firm’s website and partner profiles for services offered, industries served and other specific expertise.
All CPAs are NOT all the same
The industries CPAs specialize in and the services they offer will vary according to firm size and partner/staff expertise. At KRS, for example, we provide full-service accounting, tax planning and preparation, business office processing and business valuation services to businesses. We also offer family office services, individual tax planning and preparation, and estate accounting and tax preparation to our individual clients.
If you have questions about choosing the right accountant for your family or business, I’d be happy to help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201.655.7411.