7 Tips For Finding The Best Accountant
During the early stages of a company’s growth lifecycle, bookkeeping is typically kept in house.
However, at some point, every successful business reaches a stage where accounting becomes too large and critical a task for a non-professional to handle. For companies at such crossroads, the next logical step is to search for a qualified accountant.
But how do you go about finding the most effective accountant for your business? Below, the experts at CFO Hub have compiled 7 tips to keep in mind when doing your due diligence.
Tip #1—Determine Your Needs
Not every business will hire an accountant for the same reasons. Some desire a bookkeeper capable of maintaining accurate and timely financial records. Others may require a professional who is capable of more than just recordkeeping—someone who could handle the preliminary duties of a controller, or even a CFO.
Mark Koziel, director of specialized communities for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), had this to say:
“The right accountant can help a business with not only tax returns, but with longer term tax planning, business planning, networking, and even personal tax planning if you’re still the major stakeholder in your business… You are trusting that CPA with your financial future as a small business. You’re hoping that it is someone well versed in what you need, and someone who has had other life experience and can help you from a financial perspective.”
An accountant can have a dramatic impact on the health of the business. And because this is such a monumental decision, you need to ensure that your needs align with their skill set(s). A potential candidate could be more than qualified, but if they do not match your company’s culture, goals, and vision, it might still be the wrong person for the job.
Tip #2—Consider the Qualifications You Are Looking For
Before you begin the search, you should have a strong understanding of the ideal candidate’s profile. Remember, this persona might differ even from a business adjacent to yours. With that being said, a few qualifications to consider include but are not limited to:
- Certifications – Are they a state certified public accountant (CPA)? Having a CPA means they have undergone all of the relevant education, training, and examination.
- Previous industry experience– Accounting for a mom-and-pop shop will be drastically less dynamic than for a mid-sized business. Similarly, different industries have different standards, practices, and regulations. Some accountants specialize in providing a distinct accounting service.
- Size of their firm– Are they a solo practitioner or a part of a larger firm? Some businesses use credentials of a firm as a screening mechanism. Whereas others want a smaller accountant who will be able to dedicate more time to the business.
- Business requirements– An accountant’s job can be relatively straightforward or incredibly nuanced. Again, it depends on the company, its mechanics, and its industry. If all you require from an accountant is tax return facilitation, you may not need to be as discretionary. But if you require someone to assist with financial planning and analysis, you’ll likely need a specialized accountant with previous experience in specific fields.
Tip #3—Perform Initial Screening for Trustworthiness
You cannot simply take anyone at their word with something as critical as handling your company’s recordkeeping. Before and during your interviewing process, you should perform basic due diligence and screening. For instance, consider doing the following:
- Request their preparer tax ID number – This is a legal requirement for professionals who prepare federal tax returns. Having up-to-date credentials ensures that they have undergone regular review of the most recent tax laws and ethics.
- Ask for referrals – A qualified accountant should have previous business relations who will vouch for their professionalism and prowess.
- Read online reviews – Chances are, an accountant’s website, social media, and online review sites can provide unique insights into who they are as a person and a professional.
- Request memberships and credentials – Are they a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals? How about the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants? Being a member of these groups is an indicator that they have taken additional steps to master their profession and stay atop evolving laws and regulations.
Tip #4—Ask the Right Questions During the Interview
Along these lines, an interview is an opportunity to gauge their experience, trustworthiness, and overall alignment. Questions you should consider include:
- How do you stay informed about the most recent accounting laws and regulations?
- What types of accounting software have you worked with in previous positions?
- Where did you receive your license from? When?
- What is the average size of the businesses you work with?
- Who are your other clients? Would they recommend you?
- What are your specialties?
- How do your fees work?
- When have you made an accounting mistake and how did you fix it?
- How do you convey financial data to non-experts?
Tip #5—Can They Grow With Your Business?
When you hire an accountant, you need to identify how they will play a role in the future of the business. In other words, they should be capable of helping you realize your goals. Therefore, is this individual someone that is capable of growing alongside the needs of the business? Can they help inform decisions that will yield positive outcomes?
Tip #6—Do Not Rush It
Hiring an accountant should not be done flippantly. In which case, take your time. Screen multiple candidates. Field various interviews to gauge whether or not your vetting processes are curating the type of individual you are seeking.
Being patient and meticulous could save you from hiring the wrong person for the job, which would inevitably result in finding yourself back at square one—having to find a new accountant.
Tip #7—Work with CFO Hub to Identify the Ideal Candidate
Hiring an accountant can be a painful, time-consuming process. With such an important role you’re seeking to fill, the preparation alone can reduce your overall bandwidth.
Here at CFO Hub, we have a stable of licensed and credentialed accountants with experience in a range of industries. If you’re struggling to find the right accountant, we can analyze your business, map its goal, and then source the perfect candidate.
Are you ready to find the perfect accountant?