Treat finding an accountant like speed dating. Life is busy, you need your accounts looked after and you don’t have time to wade through all the possible suitors. You know what you’re looking for – someone who is on the same page as you, who’s going to hit the deck running and who’s going to make your life easier with them in it. Shouldn’t be that hard, huh? But how do you find this elusive accountant? We have compiled a list of the all-important questions to ask, so that you can find your perfect accounting match.
What qualifications do they have? Take no prisoners and make sure upfront that they’re a CPA or Chartered Accountant. If not, ding, ding, next please.
What licenses do they have? Show you have done your homework and ask what licenses they have. Throw around the terms CA and CPA to show you know your stuff and make them show you their credentials upfront.
How long have they been working as a CPA or Chartered Accountant? Yes, experience is highly valued but a good accountant should also be at the top of their game and up-to-date with industry changes. Out of date advice is never sexy.
What industries are their clients in? Finding out who else they are seeing – are they similar size, revenue, industry to your business? Is their experience going to mean you both get the most out of your working relationship?
Ask if you can talk to a client of theirs for a reference A good accountant will, with permission from the client, let you talk to a select few of their current clients. Then you can get to the real nitty gritty and ensure there are no skeletons lurking in the closet.
How do they keep track of changes in clients’ circumstances? Accountants are people too. And many like to talk, have face-to-face meetings and check-in every now and again. Make sure your exchanges with your accountant aren’t all just over email and spreadsheets. Have some face time too…and coffee, there’s always time for coffee.
What sort of access will you be given to the data they hold about you or your business? You’re going to need an ‘Access All Areas’ pass for a successful working relationship with your accountant. Make sure they give you full visibility to your accounting reports. They’re yours after all.
Do they provide advice and assist in business and financial planning for your future? This is the long term / short term question. Are they in this for the long haul? In which case, what financial planning certifications do they have? Let them show you that they’re serious.
Will they return your calls within a reasonable time? Playing hard to get is not nice when you’re the one waiting. Make sure your accountant is going to value you and your business and respond to you in a timely manner. No one likes to be kept waiting.
Are they familiar with the accounting/software package you use? Make sure your accountant is up with the latest technology and familiar with and comfortable using your software. A quality accountant should also be able to recommend the best one for you.
What will you get for your money? Surprises aren’t fun or exciting in the world of accounting. Ensure you know what you’re getting for your money and that you’re not going to be presented with an unexpected bill.
What additional services can they offer? Ask them to fluff their feathers. Why should you choose them over someone else? Do they do bookkeeping or financial planning? Sometimes these additional benefits can make the decision for you.
Do they have a blog, Facebook, website? Check out their social media history. Everyone is doing it. See what they’ve been up to and with who. What sort of engagement do they have? Do they look like the sort of business that you want to be associated with?
Before committing to an accountant, it is a great idea to meet with them beforehand to ask these questions and make sure they are the right fit for you and your business or organisation. At SMART we are more than happy to meet with businesses for a no obligation meeting. Just give us a call and we’ll pop the kettle on.
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