Whether you're searching for an accounting professional to help you with your business needs or just want your taxes prepared by a CPA, forming a relationship with an accountant can require a lot of trust — and due diligence. What factors should you consider when searching for an accountant, and what questions should you ask when narrowing down potential candidates?
Keep reading to learn more about finding the right accountant for your needs.
What Type of Accountant Do You Need?
Do you want a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a chartered accountant, a staff accountant, an auditor, or an investment accountant? Accounting is a broad profession with many niches and specialties, each serving different needs.
Defining the scope of the duties you'll need the accountant to complete can help narrow down your choices. In some cases, you may think you need a CPA but could find that a bookkeeper or a registered tax return preparer will suffice.
You may also want to consider whether you'd like the accountant to be available locally, or whether working remotely is acceptable to meet your needs. Adjusting your geographic preferences could offer you more options or limit your scope, so be sure to choose wisely.
What Questions Should You Ask Candidates?
Even if a particular candidate ticks off all your boxes, it's a good idea to interview several candidates just to get a good idea of what is out there.
Some of the questions you may want to pose to a prospective accountant include:
- How much experience do you have in [preparing returns, bookkeeping, or whatever other duties you need] for businesses similar to mine?
- What type of software do you use?
- Is there anything you could suggest to save my business money? (Or, can they give you an example of something they did to save money for a similar client?)
- What measures do you use to protect sensitive client data? What safeguards are in place to prevent against unauthorized employee access?
- How do you prefer to get information from your clients? (e.g., would they rather get a bundle of bills and invoices and go from there, or do they prefer more frequent check-ins?)
- What are your rates and fees? What services are included in these fees?
- Can you provide the name of any other clients I can talk to as references?
While this isn't an exhaustive list—nor do all these questions need to be asked of every candidate—this can give you a good starting point for your account selection process, and the types of considerations you will want to keep in mind. The more information you can gain about an accountant's practice and way of doing business at the outset, the more likely you are to find a match who is compatible with your needs.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
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