An accountant can save you money, help you avoid difficulties with the CRA, assist you in growing your business, provide useful information/advice, prepare profit and loss reports, balance bank statements, prepare tax forms, assist with payroll and help you stay compliant with government regulations. With so many choices (firms and individuals), you may have to do some investigating to find the accountant that is right for you. Ask prospective agencies the following questions and listen carefully to the answers.
- How long have you been in business? Look for an accountant that has experience with and understands the difficulties you face; a firm that has a record of supporting businesses with similar challenges.
- What licenses do you/your staff have? The CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation is the most respected credential.
- What services do you provide? Most CPAs provide a range of services (monthly bookkeeping, payroll processing, tax preparation, payroll taxes, profit and loss reports, business advice, audit representation, etc.). Make sure your accountant offers what you need.
- What kind of clients do you work with? Look for an accountant who has worked with other businesses like yours and knows the ins and outs of your industry.
- Do you have references that I can contact? Reputable accountants will provide references upon request. Talk to some of the references you’re given. Ask them if the accounting firm can accomplish what they promise.
- What is your fee structure? Ask about billing options; explore hourly, monthly, flat and project-based rates. Get an estimate of likely fees.
- What’s your experience with the CRA? Ask if the firm is qualified to represent you in a CRA audit and how many tax audits they have participated in.
- What’s your tax philosophy? Is the prospective accountant cautious, assertive or aggressive about tax deductions? Find an accountant who agrees with your philosophy.
- How often will we communicate? Can you call them when you have issues? Will you meet mid and end of the year or quarterly? Make sure you feel comfortable with the frequency of communication.
- How do you communicate? Firms may communicate in person or via telephone, email, Skype, teleconferencing and/or other online services. Be sure you are comfortable with their style of communication.
- How long will it take for you to respond to my queries? Will they respond to you within a day? A week? A month? Specify your desired time limit.
- How do you keep up with changes in your profession? Ask about the firm’s ongoing professional development strategies. Do they keep up on the news, information and technology that affects their field?
- Why should I hire you? A firm should be able to explain what makes them uniquely qualified to help your business.
Finding the right accountant for your business is crucial and may seem daunting. Use these questions as a starting point for assessing the suitability of potential firms. It’s worth the time and effort to make sure you hire the accountant that matches your company’s needs.
Looking for an accounting firm to help your business? Contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company use their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.