Hopefully you have thought about an accountant before tax season, but just in case you’re scrambling now, here are four tips to consider in your search for a business CPA.
Look for a Proficient CPA
It should go without saying that you want your accountant to be good at what they do, but there’s more to proficiency than a title on a business card. The “C” in CPA stands for Certified. What training did your accountant have? Not all accountants are CPAs. To carry the title of CPA, accountants must meet additional education and experience requirements as well as pass an exam.
As with most professions, an accountant’s experience also plays into the proficiency equation. Learning the ins and outs of accounting, especially for small businesses, takes some practice.
More than experience, you want your business CPA to work to stay up to date on new laws (tax laws in particular) and how they might impact your business.
Finally, you want to be sure your accountant is able to keep your data secure. Given the fact that so much communication happens via email, you need to know that your accountant has a way to receive your documents without leaving them vulnerable to being intercepted.
Ask About Your Accountant’s Availability
As a small business owner, you want the assurance of knowing you will be able to reach your CPA when you need them. It’s a matter of the CPA having a quick response time to your calls and emails, but it’s also about them not being overwhelmed with “other clients”. With larger accounting firms, small businesses can feel like tiny fish in a big sea, fighting to get time with their designated accountant. The best CPAs make you feel like the most important client they have, even if you’re not.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Relational Fit
Meet with your potential CPA, or at least have an extended conversation with them on the phone. During the conversation, ask yourself if you get along with them. Do you trust them? You need to be comfortable sharing your life with your CPA because financials reveal a lot about you. If you’re uneasy around them, it probably won’t be a good working relationship. Do what you can to find out if you have shared values. Sharing the same values will put your business and your accountant in the same mindset about how business should be done.
Know Your CPA’s “Why”
In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” This is very intertwined with ensuring you and the CPA have shared values. Ask them why they chose accounting as a profession. Were they just good with numbers and wanted a career that had that, or do they view themselves as being in a service industry in which you’re the one being served? What’s their focus when they serve you? If it’s about making the most money they can, they will act differently than if the focus is about saving you the most money they can. It’s ideally something you want to know up front so it doesn’t surprise you down the road.
Pine and Co. CPAs
At Pine and Co., we pride ourselves in being available to clients. We understand how much value it brings and it fits well with our passion to serve. That’s our why: helping small businesses achieve greatness by serving people well. Our CPAs are well-trained and experienced in business accounting as well as taxes. The only way to know if we’ll get along is to reach out to us and schedule an appointment. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll know.