Written by: Gene G. Smith, CPA
There are several factors that need to be considered when choosing a professional to give you business and tax advice.
- What type of business do you have and what type of services are required? CPA’s have by necessity become more and more specialized. Small CPA firms typically provide general services, however some have developed niche practices. Larger firms may have a broader range of expertise. Some CPA firms do not offer audit services, so if you have a bank or investors that require audited financial statements that is going to be a factor as you look for a CPA firm. Make a list of services you currently are in need of, and also what potential services may be required in the next three to five years. Choose a firm that can grow with your business so you are not going through this process again in five years.
- Look for a firm that demonstrates a commitment to their staff through training, flexible schedules, work-life balance and a basic culture of valuing employees. Will the work be done by a CPA, an employee with a college degree, or other level staff? What is the average tenure of the staff? A firm with high turnover is not in your best interest.
- Will the CPA that you choose be genuinely interested in your business, or are they going to be a number cruncher? This will come out in the interview process right away as they ask questions. A person who gets to know you and your business will be a better advisor to you in areas you may not have even considered. A CPA can be involved with bank financing, risk management, joint venture considerations and many other non-traditional roles.
- Ask your business friends and competitors who they are using for a CPA firm. For example, if you are a car dealership and your competition is using Smith & Smith, CPA’s, chances are pretty good that firm has some degree of expertise with car dealerships.
- Compose a list of questions to be used during the interview. Some key questions to consider: Can you trust them? Can they provide business advice that would reduce your taxes or increase your bottom line? What type of clients do they currently serve? Do they ask questions indicating a genuine interest in what you do? Does the firm have specialist outside of what you may need currently (estate planning, business valuations, litigation support, strategic planning, to name a few)? What is the fee structure? Who will be assigned to do the actual work? How long will it take to receive the finished product? How long have they been in business? Do they provide the services I require?
Once you pull all your information together contact no more than three firms and begin your due diligence. Armed with a few proposals and evaluations, your informed decision should be an easy one. Best of luck, and above all call us first!