Financial Services Professional Team
20-Oct-2020 By - team

Helping you find the right accountant

So you are thinking about hiring an accountant. You have probably figured out that you may need an accountant for more than just crunching numbers, handling payroll and filing taxes.

Today, many accountants strive to serve as small business financial advisors. Many of them want to be there for you at every stage of your business’s growth. Helping to write your business plan, reviewing your inventory, looking for ways to reduce your tax liability, identifying growth opportunities.

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An accountant can also assist in charting your financial strategy for the next several years while partnering with you to maximize your odds of success.

Understanding the value and expertise an accountant can bring is the first step. Now it’s time to choose the right accountant to help elevate your business to the next level. And with nearly two million accountants nationwide at last count, you certainly have your work cut out for you.

You might not have a full list of employees on the payroll yet, but many small business owners find they need to turn to an accountant for financial help from the very beginning of their new venture. Whether you need assistance filing taxes, want someone to act as a financial advisor, or need help compiling your financial statements, finding the right accountant can be a massive advantage to your business.

But how do you find the right accountant for you and your business? Every accountant has different specialities, interests, and qualifications. Finding the right person can be tricky.

It’s important to take the time to do this carefully, and there are a few things you’ll want to consider first. You’ll need to think about issues such as the accountant’s location, the division of workload and the type of accounting software you’ll use. Consider how much you’ll have to pay the accountant and whether they can help to reduce your business taxes.

It’s in your company’s best interests to have an experienced, capable person handling one of the most important areas of your business – your finances. The right person will save you time and money year after year. So here are some things you should consider when you’re choosing an accountant.

Small business falls into; you cannot understate the value of a good accountant. You can get a bookkeeper for basic accounting services, an accountant who has a degree in accounting for more complicated accounting and payroll services, or a certified public accountant who can help with tax planning and also prepare taxes. All of these people can share strategic advice for business growth.

If you run a small business, you need to hire a reliable accountant. But you need to do the required research to get a good fit.

Even though you want to save money (and we encourage you to do so!), it is important to work with an accountant, especially when it comes to your business tax return. Not only will it save you time, but it will also be a lot less stressful. You won’t have to worry about mistakes, plus your returns are more likely to be done correctly than if you tried to do them yourself.

If you own a business or you have a complicated tax situation, you need to have an accountant for your taxes. They can also help you prepare for the future by giving you valuable advice that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

man using calculator with coffee and laptop

How To Find The Right Accountant For Your Needs?

No two accountants are the same, which means you’re likely to find one in your area perfectly suited to your needs. First, consider the following five points before setting out to find the right accountant for you.

If you’re an architect, you don’t leave building plans up to the intern in your office, do you? Likewise, if you’re a lawyer, a big case isn’t going to be fronted by a law clerk.

When it comes to looking after the financial side of the business, though, many professional services workers don’t give their accounting work to someone who is properly qualified and experienced.

Getting your taxes in order, lodging the correct paperwork with the tax office, and otherwise staying on top of accounting details is a vital component of being self-employed, especially at this time of year when EOFY is on the horizon.

But there is a big difference between accountants, so you must find someone who’s equipped to handle your work effectively.

What Does A Business Accountant Do?

A business accountant examines your company’s finances and prepares financial reports. Their job is to make sure your data is correct and your taxes are paid correctly and on time. Some may also provide bookkeeping services. According to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a nonprofit organization that provides free consultation and guidance to entrepreneurs, your accountant can do several things for you:

  • Identify every tax deduction you’re entitled to take.
  • Recognize problems (such as disappearing inventory, increased costs for products or equipment, or customers who aren’t paying on time) before they have a chance to bring down your business.
  • Maintain your cash flow at acceptable levels.
  • Point out potential areas of growth by analyzing pricing, cash flow patterns, inventory management and types of business financing.
  • Put together the financial reports you need to get loans and investment.
  • Prepare your tax returns quickly and accurately.

 

But how exactly do you find the right accountant for you? Here are some questions to ask and places to look when choosing a good accountant for your small business.

Choosing The Right Accountant: When Is It Time?

Many small businesses don’t have the volume of financial transactions that necessitate hiring a full-time — or even part-time — bookkeeper or accountant on staff. Then again, the financial situation of their business is such that they could benefit from more regular financial review and planning and up-to-date accounting — instead of leaving every invoice, receipt, and ledger to hand off to the tax preparer at the close of the fiscal year.

Hiring an outside accountant or accounting firm on a consulting basis is a good first step for a growing business, Koziel says. The outside firm can often cost less than the salary and benefits of a full-time employee and, at the same time, you may be getting a higher level of advice from a CPA or a tax accountant, the latter of whom usually is a licensed CPA and a lawyer specializing in tax law. Even with the latest and greatest accounting and tax software, it still may be easier to farm out your financials to a CPA firm that can manage your books online through secure software-as-a-service programs than to maintain those software programs in-house.

What Does Your Company Need?

To find the right accountant, you’ll need to start with a basic question: What does your company need? Decide what kind of services you need before searching for an accountant, not the other way around, Williams says. Do you need help with your taxes? Do you need someone to help with your daily accounting practices? Is financial tracking something you’re missing? Figure out the primary reason you feel like you need an accountant, and then look for someone with a set of skills to meet your needs.

 

Tips To Help You Choose The Best Accountant For Your Needs

Ask Some Of Your Colleagues

Referrals can be the best and easiest way to find a trusted accountant. By asking friends, family, and other business owners, you can get a lot of valued information, such as who to hire, who not to hire and what pricing models look like.

You might even consider asking your financial advisor. They already know your financial situation, and tax needs so that they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Find out who other business people use and how satisfied they are with the services their accountant provides. If you don’t or can’t get any worthy referrals using this method, use the internet or yellow pages and choose several accounting firms.

When you call, tell the receptionist what you do and ask for the name(s) of accountants familiar with your type of business. Use this information to create a shortlist of prospective accountants.

 

Understand Your Needs

Get clear on what your needs are before you start looking for an accountant, so you can narrow down options.

Understand what services you need someone to handle for you and if there is a particular level of expertise or experience that will be required.

If you’re like most people, you’ll be keen to find an accountant who can work with your accounting software, too.

 

Check Qualifications

Obviously, you must check the qualifications of everyone you consider, too.

Depending on your needs, you might be searching for a Chartered Accountant or a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA), or it may not matter to you which body the accountant is certified by.

It’s also possible to use an accountant who isn’t certified, chartered or registered, but this isn’t recommended in a lot of cases.

While people can do tax preparation, bookkeeping and other general financial-management related tasks for you without being qualified to the top levels, it pays to have someone who has gone through more training to advise you.

 

Look At Local Firms

Franchises like H.R. Block and Jackson Hewitt are often a popular choice for filing taxes, but local firms can give your taxes an extra advantage.

You will often find that local firms have the expertise to take care of your taxes, especially as they relate to your state.

In Oklahoma, many will have a few items on their tax returns that may not be applicable to other states, for example:

  • Oil & gas royalties (and the taxes that go with them)
  • Landman taxes
  • Earnings from gambling

A local tax expert can help you with both federal and state tax returns to maximize your savings and prevent you from overpaying.

 

Decide Whether You Need an Accountant or a CPA Firm

Many small business owners start by managing their taxes on their own. Unlike the past, it has become much easier for business owners to do simple bookkeeping tasks with the help of advanced software like QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, and similar others.

But after a certain point in time, it does make sense to hire a professional or a team of accountants to handle accounting, payroll, and tax responsibilities. Whether you need a CPA or a solo accounting firm depends on the scale of your business and the number of transaction you do per month.

 

Talk To Government And Business Associations

Small businesses are the lifeblood of many countries’ economies. Because of this, governments like to encourage their growth.

As a small business owner, take advantage of networks of business advisors available to help you make decisions like choosing the right accountant. There are often voluntary organizations and local chambers of commerce willing to advise you too. Make use of these, as they are there to help you and their advice is usually free.

They can also be useful places in which to network and talk to other business owners. Do this a few times, and you may find an accountant is recommended to you by other business owners. If nothing else, this could help you cut down the list of possible people to interview.

 

Tap Into Your Social Networks

When searching for an accountant, the ideal candidate might be right under your nose. Start by asking any friends or family members who own small businesses if they would recommend their accountant. If so, why? And if not, why not? The answers to both questions could prove useful at a later stage when you come to interview candidates.

Bear in mind that choosing an accountant can be a personal decision, so what’s right for your best friend’s P.R. business might not suit your manufacturing company. Also, take into account differences in business structure. The best accountant for a sole trader might not be the best fit for a company with ten employees.

 

Compare Fees

Some accountants charge a monthly fee which includes their fee to complete taxes while others charge monthly for bookkeeping services and then separately for business and personal taxes. You want to know how they bill before making a decision on which vendor to use. Not every accountant or accounting firm charges the same fee for its services. It differs in terms of how many services are provided and the qualifications of the person providing the services. Some accountants charge a flat fee for bookkeeping services or an annual fee for a specific set of services such as taxes. Depending on your cash flow, you may be able to negotiate how you pay. Make sure you analyze your budget before making the final decision.

 

Prepare For Interviews

After you have found a few select candidates, you’ll want to start preparing for the interview process. Yes, you really do need to conduct interviews. You are gearing up to hire someone who can influence the success (or failure) of your business. You want to get this right. You honestly can’t afford to have your financial partner making mistakes, can you? And you need to know you can trust that person. After all, he or she will have access to your books, your payroll and sometimes even your banking information. As such, you will want to go into your interviews with as much background information on your prospects as possible, as well as a list of questions you’ll ask.

To arm yourself the right level of background, you might start by asking for and checking references before you even sit down to meet. Check out an online presence, including website and social media postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites. Some small businesses even go so far as to conduct a background check to weed out potential problematic candidates.

 

Prepare A Shortlist Of Questions You Want To Ask Prospective Accountants.

Don’t be shy about asking about billing. Ask about billing rates and how these are determined. Often you may have a quick question that can be answered via a short phone call or email – how do they bill phone or email advice?

(And as for that, how accessible are they? Always ask a question about their phone call and/or email policy. It’s important that your accountant is easy to contact when you have a question.)

And find out what your new prospective accountant will charge for a basic business tax return. (Be prepared to take in a copy of your previous year’s return when you meet with them and ask them to give you a rough estimate of the cost of preparation).

It’s important that you choose an accountant that is familiar with the special requirements of your business and/or your tax situation so you can use these to vet potential accountants. For example:

  • If your business is internet-related, you’ll want to find out if the accountant is familiar with e-commerce.
  • If your business involves periods of work in other countries, you need an accountant that’s knowledgeable about international tax issues. For instance, if you are Canadian and wish to do business in the U.S., you need someone who is familiar with the IRS and has experience completing U.S. tax forms (or has easy access to someone else who does, such as another specialist who works in the same firm).
  • If you’re thinking about exporting, ask how the accountant might help you develop an export strategy.

 

Be Selective

You need an accounting professional on your team. Interview at least three candidates before you select your accountant. You need to choose an accountant that is a fit for your small business. If you hired an accountant that does not feel like they are on your team, move on. While you might feel some short-term discomfort while doing this, you will get long-term benefits for your business. You need up-to-date financial information to make the best business decisions. This starts with professional accounting services.

Small Business Owners

Right Choice of an Accountant Will Help Grow Your Small Business

An accountant is a key team member in your business. You need someone who is experienced, reliable, and ready to be there for you whenever a need arises. They will not only manage the accounting tasks but also offer practical business advice to support your business planning and growth. If you choose an accountant based on these tips, you reduce your risk of making the wrong choice for your company.

DISCLAIMER
THIS WEBSITE CONTAINS GENERAL ADVICE ONLY AND IS NOT PERSONAL FINANCIAL OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. ALSO, CHANGES IN LEGISLATION MAY OCCUR FREQUENTLY. WE RECOMMEND THAT OUR FORMAL ADVICE BE OBTAINED BEFORE ACTING ON THE BASIS OF THIS INFORMATION. INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN HAS BEEN SECURED FROM SOURCES EWM ACCOUNTANTS & BUSINESS ADVISORS BELIEVES ARE RELIABLE, BUT MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES AS TO THE ACCURACY OF SUCH INFORMATION AND ACCEPT NO LIABILITY. WE SUGGEST THAT YOU CONSULT WITH A TAX ADVISOR, CPA, FINANCIAL ADVISOR, ATTORNEY, ACCOUNTANT, AND ANY OTHER PROFESSIONAL THAT CAN HELP YOU TO UNDERSTAND AND ASSESS THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH ANY INVESTMENT.

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