CPA firms come in many shapes and sizes and not every firm is right for every business. You need to do your homework to find a firm that will take an interest in your business and its growth.  The right CPA firm will support you and your business, offering the right services you need.

So how do you decide? Both large and small firms have their advantages and disadvantages.  Large firms have a plethora of options and services to offer your business.  Does your business need to have a compilation prepared?  Not all of the smaller firms can offer this service.

Small CPA firms, on the other hand, are typically ideal for small businesses.  They will most likely cater to the small businesses specific needs.  They are most often more cost effective too. However smaller firms, may only have themselves to handle everything which, can make it challenging  to get a hold of them when you need them at times.

Also, that doesn’t mean as you business grows you may grow out of your current CPA firm.  That happens quite often too. If you are no longer getting what you and your business wants and needs don’t be afraid to change, just do your homework first.

Here are some questions to ask when interviewing your next CPA firm

    1. What services do you offer?  CPA firms sometimes offer many different services other than just tax preparation.  Some offer asset management, auditing, basic bookkeeping and consulting services. They are also a very good reference point for these types of services if they do not do them in house.  
    2. What are your fees? Larger CPA firms often have more substantial fees.  Get them to quote you a price based on your previous year’s return.
    3. Do you specialize in any specific industry?  Some CPA firms will specialize in specific industries.  It’s often advantageous to go with an accountant that does, especially if it’s an industry like manufacturing or non-profit.  There are different rules and loopholes for these different industries.
    4. How conservative are you?  Some small business owners like to push the envelope while others are much more conservative.  Make sure your CPA aligns with your own views. This is very important.
    5. How and when do you communicate tax law changes?  This is essential.  There are so many tax law changes for 2018, has you CPA communicated any of these to you?  You should be aware of them as soon as 2018 starts, not after it’s over. It will affect how you do business in the current year.  Advice — if your CPA has not sent out any communications on the changes — email them now and ask for them.
    6. How do you handle audits? Some CPA firms will refer you to an audit specialist.  There is nothing wrong with this, it actually may be advantageous to get sent to a CPA that specializes in audits.  It’s something you should know up front.

Things to do first:

  1. Communication test— See if the CPA communicates to you in a responsive, timely and professional manner that you are satisfied with.
  2. Warm and fuzzies — Whether it’s a vendor or a client you need to get a good feeling when you speak to them.  Make sure this person aligns with you and who you are. Everyone relates to everyone else differently.   It is important you feel a connection to your CPA and know you will enjoy working with them.
  3. Get a referral — Ask fellow business owners who they work with, and more importantly do they like their CPA and why.  If there is a CPA or two you are leaning towards, venture out on social media to see what clients are saying about them.
  4. Pick 2 & compare — Pick two and compare apples to apples.  Do a pro/con list for both and see which one offers you everything you are looking for.  Will they be able to support your business and its growth needs in the future?

Your CPA firm  is one of the most critical relationships a small business can build. Choose wisely.

Attention business owners…10 Tips for finding the right CPA

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