Whether starting a small business or adjusting for changes in tax laws, choosing an accounting firm can be a daunting task. To prevent important details from slipping through the cracks, be sure to consider the following when selecting one.
Having an amazing accounting staff simultaneously bankrupt the company is pointless. Although higher-end companies may offer higher prices, this is not always the case. Rates should be one of the first things to consider when trying to find the right fit. It is also important to analyze the charges. For example, some may charge by the task, such as filling out a 1040 personal income tax form or preparing a net worth statement, and others may charge by the minute.
Some accounting firms may look attractive on paper, but it’s important that they put their money where their mouth is. A good way to make sure that one is qualified to do the tasks that they offer is to determine if they have received certifications for those tasks. A company that primarily or exclusively employs CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) will generally be more trustworthy than one that does not.
Finding the right fit only to find that its availability is low is an inefficient use of time. Although some larger agencies can afford to take on more clients, some are too spread out and cannot give all of their clients the same amount of time and attention. Generally, a company’s availability can be determined by trying to schedule an appointment or trying to contact them by phone. If any of these are difficult at any point in the process, it may be a red flag.
There’s a reason employers ask for references when interviewing potential employees, and the process should be the same when selecting an accounting firm. Even if an option has the right qualifications, listening to other companies or people who have worked with them in the past can clarify whether or not they are as efficient as they seem. Contacting business partners who have worked with them can be a good way to see if your customers made a good impression, good or bad.
While it may seem like an afterthought, being able to make a personal connection with an accounting firm is especially important, considering that they will be handling very important and often confidential materials. It’s important to find a company that cares about its customers as more than just a bottom line. The contact person should be comfortable being candid about their services and the company’s finances. Any feeling of intimidation or miscommunication that could lead to complications down the road is a sign that a different option may be a better option.
Choosing the right accounting firm can be a difficult task, but it’s worth spending the time and effort to make sure it will benefit the business in the long run.