How to Select a CPA: Things to Consider When Choosing a Professional Accounting Firm
Whether you’re interested in business or personal accounting assistance, it is vital to select a tax professional who you can trust to expertly guide you through the often intimidating world of finance. While accounting is, in its most basic definition, the careful monitoring of expenses and assets, every situation requires different considerations in order to ensure that each penny is accurately tracked and wisely used. Factors such as tax codes, fluctuating costs, legal requirements, and more can all have a distinct effect on your financial health. The right professional accountant will have what it takes to bring you successful outcomes.
Choosing an accounting firm can be complicated, however. Some customers may be more comfortable with a small local firm rather than a large national chain, while others are worried about finding a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm that will be able to accommodate their unique circumstances. Whether you’re just starting out in the business world or are looking for ways to improve your current personal money-management habits, it is important to know what type of service you expect from your CPA and how to decide whether or not a particular firm is a good match for you. Before you start searching the Internet or the phone book for a list of CPA firms, consider the following:
The type of assistance you require–Stop to consider exactly what you need before you choose an accountant. Some CPAs prefer to stick to more generalized accounting services, such as the preparation of annual financial statements, while others are available for year-around advice and can provide assistance with specified services, including ongoing financial planning and more. If you’re a business owner, you may even be able to find an accountant in your area who specializes in your particular industry, such as non-profit or retail accounting. In order to ensure that you’re receiving the best possible help, you will want to make sure that you choose an accounting firm that focuses on the services that will be most beneficial to you. Keep in mind that some financial necessities, such as filing back taxes, may be better suited to a tax attorney.
Personal comfort–It is not a bad idea to interview a few CPAs in order to be sure that are you are comfortable with the professional that you eventually select. After all, you are choosing a person who will be handling your financial matters, and if you have doubts about this person’s professionalism, their ability to communicate with you, or your general ability to work together, you could be putting your livelihood at stake. Be sure to ask questions so you can get a feel for how this accountant firm approaches your needs. You want to be comfortable with the accounting firm’s particular business culture, confident in their ability to give you negative news, and assured of their ability to accurately examine your financial situation and set you up for success.
Credentials–It is important to double-check your accountant’s accreditation. Where did they receive their education? Are they currently licensed and certified in your state? Also, how many years of experience do they possess? If you would feel more comfortable entrusting your financial needs to someone with a few years of experience rather than someone fresh out of school, trust your gut.
References–Do you know someone who uses an accounting professional? Personal experience is an invaluable resource when it comes to choosing an accounting firm. Don’t be afraid to ask others who they’ve used for their accounting needs and if they’d recommend their services to others. If you desire, you can even ask the firms that you’ve interviewed to provide you with a list of their most important clients so you can get a sense of the quality of their work.
Accountants can help you get off on the right foot, make smarter and more informed financial decisions, and stay prepared for the future. Whether you are looking for a multifaceted accountant to help you with a wide range of services or need assistance with one particular project, it is only wise to do your research and select a professional who is perfectly suited to you.