Finding a Tax and Accounting Professional for Your Small Business
A tax and accounting professional can provide valuable insights and optimize the financial health of your business. In these uncertain times, finding an advisor that matches your small business’ needs is more important than ever. The following questions can help you determine if a prospective accounting relationship is a good fit.
When you've found a relationship that matches your needs, Thomson Reuters has provided two templates to help you assess your goals and desired outcomes for a meaningful discussion with an accountant:
How do you help your clients reach their goals?
Listen for: Answers that indicate a desire to understand your business goals and challenges and to partner with you in developing and implementing plans to achieve objectives. This points to forward movement and embracing change – you want a firm who will not just make suggestions, but help lead in action.
Where do you place the emphasis in your client relationships?
Listen for: Communication, being proactive.
Where do your other clients find your greatest value?
Listen for: Facilitating change, bringing up things to consider and act on early. If the focus is on forms and accuracy, it could indicate that the firm specializes in tax compliance rather than broader business advisory services.
What kind of technology does the firm use?
Listen for: Portal access, online systems in place at the firm make them more reliable and likely to offer real-time service without compromising your data security.
When was the last time you did something new for a client that you hadn’t done before?
Listen for: An answer! You want someone who is learning and growing, not stagnant in their knowledge.
Will our business work with the whole firm or just you/your team?
Listen for: A client communication model with minimal bottlenecks. If all client communication filters through a single partner or manager, your contact may be limited or important information could be delayed.
What does the firm look for when taking on a new client?
Finding a good fit is a two-way street, and you don’t want to be just another client. Look for a firm that takes the time to examine how advising your business aligns with the firm’s goals.
Will I know the entire billing commitment before the firm starts working?
This is a must. Whether billing hourly or per project, the terms of the engagement should be clearly spelled out in advance.
Like most industries, tax and accounting has a variety of professional certifications and specializations. Read about the different types of tax and accounting advisors here.
See below for other external resources for finding a tax and accounting professional:
State Boards of Accountancy – contact information for state boards is available from the AICPA http://www.aicpa.org/Advocacy/State/StateContactInfo/Pages/default.aspx
IRS Federal Tax Return Preparer Directory https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf
Last Updated: 11/11/2022