Choosing the right CPA or Certified Professional Accountant can save you time and money. If you’re a small business owner, the right CPA can influence your profitability and cash flow.
So, what are the top questions to ask and what do you really need to know in order to make a sound decision? As you set out on your CPA search, make sure to ask questions in these six areas first.
1. Understand the CPA’s typical client base.
Before you move on to more in-depth questions, your first questions should help to understand if you are a match as a client. Asking your CPA what types of clients they work with will help to ensure they work with individuals or businesses similar to you and your needs. It is also important to have this information to know that they will understand the rules that could apply to your industry or overall situation.
2. Know the billing and payment structure.
You must understand how your costs will be determined so there are no surprises upon completion of your projects. While some companies bill their clients on an hourly basis, it would usually be better to find a CPA that bills per project, with the fee being disclosed at the start. In cases where clients are billed by the hour, this often does not result in cost-effectiveness, although this does not apply to all cases.
3. Determine the level of experience.
You’re likely looking for an ally, someone who will review your situation and help you prevent any issues, plus take advantage of any opportunities to minimize taxes. Remember, the level of experience does not always equate to years of experience. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’ll be looking for profit maximization and forward-thinking. Understand if your CPA has broad experience or a narrow focus in certain areas, and what services they offer. Then, make sure it’s relevant to your business.
4. Who will you be doing the work?
Some CPAs may outsource work to an employee or third party. This does not necessarily mean lesser service or quality, but it is your right to know if who you are hiring and paying will actually be performing the work. You’ll want to make sure the person you’re about to commit to and trust with your project is the one who will be working on it.
5. How often will there be communication?
Everyone has different communication preferences. Being on the same page about the frequency of communication and the approach is important. Can you reach out anytime or will you schedule meetings? Asking questions to make sure you’re satisfied with the level and style of communication is important. Most of all, you want to be comfortable with asking your CPA questions if needed and be confident you’ll get them answered.
6. Check online reviews or ask for referrals.
Search for online reviews to get a more thorough picture of your potential CPA. Although, online reviews do not always paint a perfect picture, as many times reviewers are those who are unsatisfied, whether the reason is justified or not. If possible, ask for three to five referrals from the CPA whom you may contact. Many good CPAs will be happy to hand over references.
The last thing you want to do is put in the leg work to find a CPA, then have to do it all over again the following year if the situation doesn’t work out. So, this is a relationship you’ll want to build over time. In that case, having a connection is necessary and finding out information is important.
Take the time to assess how the CPA makes you feel. Ask yourself if they truly understand your needs. If you aren’t feeling a connection or comfort level in the first meeting, it definitely will not just appear in future meetings. Lastly, if you can’t meet in person, see about scheduling a virtual meeting via Zoom or other technology to be able to speak directly with each other.
Bayntree has relationships with many reputable CPAs to benefit client needs. If you have questions or need to find a CPA, please schedule an appointment on Bayntree’s online calendar by selecting the date and time that is most convenient for you! You can also always reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bayntree Wealth Advisors provides comprehensive financial planning and wealth management. The Bayntree team specializes in all aspects of financial health, including retirement planning, risk management, investment advice, tax strategies, estate planning and insurance.
Bayntree does not provide specific legal or tax advice. Please consult with your tax advisor or legal professional for guidance with your individual situation.