I have been a professional auditor working with CPA firms for over 20 years. I’m frequently asked by friends and family to help them find an accountant or firm to help with their yearly tax returns or prepare financial statements.
I usually end up helping them not only with the selection process but also with the day to day running of their business, as they are often too busy to deal with the accounting and tax aspects.
In this article, I will outline what you should expect when you hire a CPA firm.
1) Expect an initial consultation
The first step in hiring a CPA firm is to have an initial consultation. This meeting is usually free of charge and is used by the accountant to get a better understanding of your business and your needs.
At the meeting, you should be prepared to discuss the following:
- Your Financial Statements (if have any).
- Any tax related information.
- The type of services you are looking for.
- The budget you have allocated for accounting services.
Like we did with our clients here in Free cash flow.
Isn’t it rather straightforward? You should contact your CPA and expect them to respond, return a call, or contact you as soon as possible. You shouldn’t accept anything less than what you can reach.
2) Expect to get the most tax deductions
One of the most important aspects of working with a CPA firm is to make sure your taxes are done correctly. The IRS is always on the lookout for mistakes and can penalize you if they find fault in your tax returns.
A good CPA firm will help you file your taxes in a way that minimizes your chances of being audited, while maximizing your tax deductions.
Free 30-Min Strategy Session
By the end of this Strategy Session, you will have a clear understanding of the next steps you can take for your business to take advantage of the tax deductions you are missing out on.
3) Expect they will review your financial reports regularly
I find that most small business owners don’t do this enough or at all. This leads to big problems down the road if the accountant makes mistakes or doesn’t look as closely as they should.
Annual financial reports for a small business help identify areas that might need more attention from the accountant or you. They also help keep you on track with your financial goals.
3) Expect regular contact
A good CPA firm will maintain regular contact with you throughout the year. This could include monthly, quarterly or even weekly contact, depending on your needs.
This is important as it will help you know what to expect and it can alert you to changes in your business early on.
Remember that good communication always lead to better results.
4) Expect them to be Proactive
Your CPA firm should be there to remind you of any due dates. Whilst you are managing your company’s day-to-day operations, your accountant should be proactive and ensure that you are aware of your financial reporting needs and deadlines.
You should never assume you’ll get advice before you need it. Your accountant should check up on your financial situation on a regular basis, look for warning signs, and give cash flow optimization recommendations as required.
They should also remind you about reporting and other crucial financial deadlines, not the other way around, so you can focus on running your company.
5) Expect them to be flexible
The biggest suppressor of innovation is rigidity, and in today’s fast-paced business environment, that’s a one-way ticket to failure.
CPAs have access to a wide range of complex new tools that may automate many of their time-consuming and mundane activities. When appropriate, your CPA firm should be employing these technologies to improve cost savings and efficiency in your business processes.
You should also be a part of the conversation. Because you work in a unique sector, your CPA firm should take your input into account. What works for one firm may not work for you, and what was effective last month may not be helpful now. they should have the knowledge to suggest which methods will be effective for your company’s situation.
6) Expect a boost in your cash flow.
One of the biggest benefits you should expect from a CPA firm is increased cash flow. For example, if your business has a slow quarter and you don’t have a line of credit, this could pose a serious problem.
The reality is that cash is always king for any company. As a client, you should anticipate to be informed and advised about how money may flow through your business, how you might improve it, and in the end, how your organization will benefit.
7) Expect them to save you from any surprise bills
CPAs may lose your business if they make you feel like you have been misled or taken advantage of. As a result, they should always give you with cost estimates for projects or a cost limit so that you are not blindsided by a large invoice.
8) Expect them to help you in the loan process
Taking out a loan is frequently necessary when starting a business. Keep in mind that having an CPA firm who understands your financial position might assist you in explaining the purpose of the loan and exploring other financing possibilities.
CPAs can assist company owners with the next phase of obtaining a loan after they’ve been accepted.
They typically assist clients in obtaining the information and data they need for a loan, such as quantifying their current financial condition and credit demand.
a CPA Firm may work with customers to create compelling loan applications that increase the prospects of a bank accepting the request by utilizing this data.
Ask these 10 questions before you hire a CPA firm
#1: What services beyond the usual reporting and number-crunching are offered?
A CPA should not be limited to a data entry employee. It is their job as a consultant to ensure that the data they obtain is correct. If it doesn’t, they should ask questions and try to obtain clarity.
#2: Do you believe I’m paying too much, too little, or just the right amount of tax?
An CPA firm’s services may extend beyond simply filling out tax forms. During the year, an accountant should be involved in company planning at all times. A quarterly checkup is usually necessary to ensure that books and records are correct. This also allows the CPA time to counsel customers about their businesses so they can operate as efficiently as possible during tax season.
A knowledgeable CPA will examine the tax situation from the form of entity to all legal means to plan and reduce all taxes paid, since most business owners pay too much in taxes.
#3: Do you consider yourself tech-savvy?
Small company accounting software has made sophisticated accounting tools accessible to anybody.
But, like all accounting programs (particularly QuickBooks), they’re only as beneficial as the person who uses and maintains them. As a result, having an expert CPA assist you in installing and maintaining your books is critical.
#4: Who are your other clients?
Imagine if you hired a CPA firm based on the assumption that he had a good understanding of your company’s fundamentals. Then you find out they’ve never worked with a client similar to yours before. Instead, he specializes in preparing tax forms for high-net-worth individuals without businesses.
Avoid this tragedy by learning about their clients. If they’re businesses like yours, that’s a good sign. You’ll also want to find out what the CPA’s work schedule is and whether he has the resources to adequately support you in asking these questions.
#5: Why should I use you?
Simply ask the question and wait for the answer. You should sense that the CPA is genuinely interested in your success.
#6: Who will I be communicating with?
More than one CPA specialist may be assigned to a client’s return. You probably don’t need to know how the “back room” works, but you want to know if the individual you’re meeting is the one who’ll be able to answer your questions about your tax return.
#7: Do you conduct your own business and personal affairs in a reasonably efficient and sensible way?
Ask about the CPA’s approach to acquiring and serving clients, support staff, use of technology – including computers, phones, and the Internet – as well as methods for keeping up with things.
#8: How long have you been a Certified Public Accountant, and what other licenses do you hold?
If you’re still unsure, contact the state CPA association to find out if there have been any disciplinary actions taken. Some accountants also have qualifications in the field of finance (PFS), securities representatives, and business valuation experts.
#9: Do the same people always service your account?
Ideally, you should work with the same person not whatever individual is available at the time. As a result, you and your CPA can get to know each other better as time goes on.
#10: How can you, as my accountant, assist my business with achieving the growth we desire?
That’s a classic one where the question gets asked all of the time, CPA Damien Scott notes. “The CPA can bring all of their expertise to the table if they are savvy enough, leading to their understanding of the industry that the customer is in, past experiences with relevant accounting system platforms, and tax issues that may”
Choosing a CPA firm is based on your business’s demands as well as how effectively you communicate with them.
Remember, the key is to ask the right questions to determine if they are a good fit for you.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to find the perfect CPA firm for your business.
Feel free to book a free call with Alan Chen (a CPA with +20 years expertise) and join the experts who choosed us!