Questions to Ask When Choosing an Accounting Firm
It takes a village – not just to raise a child, but to grow a business too. Your drive and intelligence will only take you so far if you don’t create a skilled support team. Aligning with the right accounting firm is one of the most effective ways to position your business for a successful future. But what makes an accounting firm right for you? You can’t know that a firm is a good fit just because it’s popular, or well rated, or has the lowest fees in town. The only way to find the right CPA firm is to ask questions… lots of questions. A firm that deserves your business should be willing to answer them.
Does your firm have experience in my industry?
Every industry has its specific challenges, but some have more complicated regulatory and tax restrictions than others. The accountants you work with should be well versed in the requirements and intricacies affecting businesses in your field. This is especially important for businesses in emerging or expanding industries. Companies in the restaurant space, for example, must be prepared to respond to constantly evolving employment regulations and POS reporting requirements. Not all CPAs can serve those companies’ needs.
What challenges would you help me prepare for?
You’re the expert in running your business, but you might not see accounting and tax problems coming. So ask about specific hurdles that working with this firm will help you avoid. One way to get to this information is to ask about challenges the firm has helped other businesses in your industry manage.
Do you have services for my business as it grows?
Your accountant’s guidance should help you grow your business. When growth happens, will that accountant be able to meet your changing needs? Will they be able to advise you as your staff expands, your tax obligations change and your profits grow? A small CPA firm may satisfy your requirements when you’re just starting out but not be prepared to grow with you.
Do you have a network of professionals to recommend when I need help in other areas?
Even a well-rounded CPA firm can’t advise you on every aspect of your business. Someday your business may need legal or business valuation services, or help navigating an expansion through M&A, or have any number of other needs. An established firm should have connections with reputable local specialists.
How will you track and share my progress?
It can be useful to talk about the technology that a CPA firm uses before making any hiring decisions. For low-tech businesses, this might not be terribly important information. But if you and your team are already accustomed to using certain tools and software around accounting, be sure to find out what the CPA firm uses. How will you share data with your CPA? Is there a client portal where you can access documents? What kind of software does the firm use for accounting, reporting and client communication?
How will you communicate with me?
Know what to expect from your relationship with a CPA firm before signing on. The specific questions you ask may depend on your preferences around communication. How will your accountants communicate with you? Will you hear from them only when something’s wrong, or will you have regular check-ins? Can you come in for face-to-face meetings if you want them, or does the firm primarily work virtually? Can you text your accountant if necessary?
Who will be my primary contact? Who else will be on my account?
Whether you like to make a personal connection with your accountant or prefer to keep things all business, it’s imperative that you trust the people whom you’re trusting with your business. Who will you reach out to when you have a question? Who else will be part of the team on your account? If your primary contact is out of the office, who will you speak to then? What tasks will be handled by your primary contact, and what tasks will be managed by other team members? Is everyone who will be part of your team a CPA?
How can you help me reach my goals?
This is a general kind of question, but the answers you get should be revealing. Choosing the right CPA firm isn’t just about avoiding trouble with the IRS – it’s about adding value to your company and putting all the necessary support in place to help you grow.
Sachetta Callahan knows that it can be daunting to find CPAs you can trust with your company. How can we help you strengthen your business and plan for the future? Our business consulting and accounting professionals are here to help. Contact us today – we welcome your questions!