Finding a reputable accountant can be tricky. It requires research and a bit of luck to find a professional who meshes well with your leadership team, understands your long-term goals, and feels comfortable supporting your industry. But there are a few things you can do to make this process easier. To find an accountant who adds value to your business, ask yourself the following questions:
What licenses do they have?
This is an important question to ask upfront because anybody performing bookkeeping, tax, or audit services can call themselves an accountant. To ensure you’re hiring somebody who’s qualified, look for an accountant with a valid certified public accountant (CPA) license. Most states (including Florida) require applicants to have at least 150 credit hours of undergraduate or graduate classwork and a certain amount of accounting-specific education before they can even sit for the exam. The exam itself is quite rigorous, and it will weed out those not completely dedicated to their craft. But most importantly, when you hire a CPA, you know they are current on industry guidance. CPAs must attend an average of 40 hours of continuing professional education each year to remain licensed. It’s always smart to check with your state’s Board of Accountancy to ensure your accountant holds an active license.
What industries do they focus on?
To truly add value to your organization, your accountant should have experience supporting businesses in your industry. Some industries – like banking, construction, and retail, to name a few – follow industry-specific guidance or have unique methods for applying generic accounting guidance. An accountant who is intimately familiar with this guidance can employ tactics that gain you a better business advantage. As you’re researching firms, see if their website lists their specialties or ask about their preferred niches in the interview process.
How well do they communicate?
Good communication is key in any business relationship, but it’s especially important with your accountant. Having regular check-ins with your CPA – not just at audit or tax time – will ensure you’re aware of new accounting guidance, tax laws, and state or local ordinances. Good communication also benefits your CPA because even the smallest business decisions can have a financial statement or tax impact. Select an accountant who keeps lines of communication open; they will be the ones willing to tweak reporting strategies mid-year or make new tax elections based on your business decisions.
What do they know about you?
A good CPA will do their research before meeting with you. You want to find an accountant who is excited to build a relationship with you and other members of your organization. While understanding your industry is important, you want your accountant to take it one step further and get to know the traits that make your business unique. When following up with prospective firms, ask yourself if they seem to remember the details you shared with them on your previous visit. Did they seem excited to work with you? Have they researched a topic you had previously discussed? Have they learned more about your industry or area of expertise?
What does your gut tell you?
The CPA that you hire will be an important member of your leadership team, so respect your instincts. How did you feel after the initial phone call? Would you feel comfortable bringing them a list of questions or concerns? And what were your other team members’ impressions of the CPA? Interviewing multiple firms can help you formulate an opinion. On comparison, one is likely to stand out above the rest as a good fit for you and your business. The right accountant for you is out there – you just need to find them. At Artola CPA, we would love the opportunity to learn about your business accounting needs and share with you what makes us tick. Contact us today to learn more!