Choosing an accountant seems like an easy choice. You like money, they like counting it. Match made in heaven, right?
Maybe. But there’s certainly more to it than that. Here are a few questions to ask a CPA to see if they’re the right fit for your business.
It’s hard to get excited about hiring anyone who isn’t passionate about their job. The same holds true for an accountant. We know it’s surprising, but some people actually like their work as a certified public accountant. It is quite understandable, too, considering the effort a person needs to put into the CPA exam and high CPA exam fees, the likelihood of you getting certified if you hate it is not that high.
No one wants an accountant who’s busy tweaking their fantasy baseball team the entire opening month of the Major League Baseball season in April instead of making sure that you are getting all the tax deductions coming to you.
Ideally a person or business wants an accountant that is organized and aware of all the different tax and business regulations that affect your company. It may not be everyone’s hobby, but hopefully the accountant in question gets warm fuzzies thinking about ways to reduce their clients’ tax liabilities.
Let’s also make sure the accountant chose that profession because they’re good at it. I may be passionate about soccer, but I’ll never get to to a Messi-like level. Your accountant may not be able to fix all of Donald Trump’s financial irregularities like a superhuman, but they should definitely be able to balance your books without breaking a sweat.
Your accountant should be touching base with you on a regular basis to make sure everything is peachy. Even when the accountant isn’t working in-house, they should be firmly aware of not only what tax laws have changed, but also what have changed in your business.
Is there anything new that they are willing to try to speed up this process? Maybe a new accounting software is in the works to help catch any mishaps. Perhaps they are looking to understand their clientele better by studying their specific industry. There are plenty of ways a CPA, much like anyone else, can do their job better.
But if your accountant is nervously laughing as they answer this question, all while sporting a Hawaiian button-up, it may be time to find a new CPA to look after your business.
Much like any professional sports team might do, you want your accountant to be looking over the past year to double down on successful strategies and cut the bad ones. Discuss what, if anything, they are planning to change in the coming year.
Just like you, your CPA is in the business of customer satisfaction. A good accountant will seek to learn from their experiences. A great accountant will actively seek feedback. Why did their strategy go poorly? Why did it go well?
A CPA firmly aware of the positives and negatives of their accounting game is preferable to the one who can’t see the forest for the trees.
Although this question may put your accountant on the spot, this shouldn’t be a way for your bookkeeper to humblebrag. Let them brag after another great fiscal year. What this question should do is lead to a serious discussion on what you should be looking for as a business owner.
Do they value time management? Or are they more focused on proactivity? Make sure that their answers match up with what you, the business owner, are looking for in a CPA. No sense in hiring the most organized bookkeeper when what your business needs is a transparent relationship between both parties.
Make sure to ask the follow-up questions about how they would rate themselves in each area. Put their feet to the fire. After all, they aren’t gods.
Forget the pen and paper, the floppy disk and the thumb drive. It’s time for accountants not working with cloud-based technology to set both feet in the 21st century.
The great thing about accounting software on the cloud is that it is always up to date without needing to purchase additional software. With the cloud, there’s no need to buy the next round of QuickBooks. Cloud-based accounting also beefs up security and accessibility.
Most of the cloud-based accounting companies offer their services for a price. ZipBooks offers all their services completely free of charge. No subscription, no “freemium” content and no in-app purchases. All of the goods necessary to make sure you and your accountant are on the same page, without even having to pay a tip.
If they aren’t willing to make the switch, consider it a dealbreaker. Find that accountant that has already made the switch and keep your business looking forward.
Tim is Founder and CEO of ZipBooks. He keeps his desk really nice and neat.