If you need a CPA it is important that you choose the right one. The expense is higher than hiring an accountant, but that cost includes additional services that the accountant can’t offer. You will be spending a lot of time with your CPA and you have to be able to communicate. Everyone’s style is different.
In short, finding the right CPA isn’t just about the certification or the letters behind the name. Finding the right CPA is a process that should be performed seriously and with objectivity. It should not be taken lightly. You are putting your financial future in the hands of the person you choose.
What Can a CPA Offer Me That an Accountant Can’t?
Accountants and CPAs have some overlapping skills and duties, but where these duties and skills diverge is where the CPA is needed. A CPA can do far more than create financial reports and represent you at the IRS audit. Think about having someone to help you with financial planning, tax advice, preparing financial statements. A CPA can help you implement financial systems, do estate planning, and help you analyze your position for loans or financing. An accountant can’t perform these services. A CPA can.
If you are going to pay the higher fees commanded by a CPA be sure that you are clear as to what services are available to you based on the fee you discussed. If you receive no more than bookkeeping services, you only need an accountant. Save your money. This isn’t the CPA for you. If you’re in Dallas, Texas, Marlandale offers the full services you expect for your money.
Communication Style Counts
Everyone has their own communication style. One person may prefer the phone, another a fax, someone else wants to text all day while for some email works best. Whichever style suits you, your CPA has to either embrace it as well or be willing to adapt to it. You have to be comfortable with your CPA. If you have a quick question and prefer to text because you’re in a meeting, then if you chose the right CPA, you will receive a text in response. If you receive a phone call instead, this is not the one for you.
You have to be willing to interview several candidates before you settle on one. Ask them questions about whether they will reply to you in kind if you text, or email or phone. Find out what their availability is if you contract with them. If you have a business open 7 days a week, Dallas, Texas has many, and your CPA will only answer your questions Monday through Friday, you may have a problem.
What Other Qualities Are Important?
Since a CPA can offer so many other services that an accountant can’t, you want to be sure that you have a CPA that will actively watch your account. What does that mean exactly? A CPA has the ability to grow your business. They can review your financial data and spot places where you can cut costs or work more efficiently. They can also spot trouble areas and present them to you so you can discuss them and prevent problems before they occur. Make sure you get a CPA that doesn’t wait until you make a quarterly review appointment to take a peek at your account. If they are worth their salt they will keep tabs on your account and contact you with questions if they spot something troubling.
What Else Is There to Look For?
Though not a requirement, sometimes it helps to get a CPA that has experience in your industry. Some industries are specialized. The accounting, regulatory and tax issues that face a bank are far different than those that a retail establishment would face. Likewise, if you are looking for financial reporting if you are a manufacturing firm you have far different entries in your accounts that would a lawyer’s office. This is why it is advantageous to hire someone with industry experience.
One other point that is extremely important is trustworthiness. You must have a certified accountant that you can trust. You are giving them all of your financial information, tax information and in some cases that of your employees as well if they perform payroll or bookkeeping services.
In addition to trusting them you expect them to be there when you need them. They must be reliable. You don’t want someone who is non-responsive or who will take their own sweet time to get back to you. Not only is it not professional, but it creates stress for you. Finances are stressful enough, there is no reason to make it any more stressful. CPAs are also required to participate in continuing education programs. Make sure those credentials are up-to-date and run the names by your friends. They may even be able to recommend someone.