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What to Look for in an Accountant

What to Look for in an Accountant - Cook and Co - Accounting Companies Calgary

You’ve decided it’s time to hire an accountant for your business. There are so many accounting firms to choose from! Which should you select? It’s in your company’s best interests to have an experienced, capable person(s) handling your finances. A good accountant provides tax advice, helps you strategize, is affordable, has strong entrepreneurial skills, communicates well, adjusts to your risk tolerance and saves you time and money. An excellent accountant is priceless! Choosing the right accountant can be a daunting task. This is a decision that requires time, careful research and thought. The following are some tips to help you choose the best accounting firm for your company. 

  • Consider their location: Are you partial to face-to-face meetings? If so, choosing an accountant located nearby is important. Are you willing to collaborate online? If the answer is yes, your company can use cloud-based technology, email, video-conferencing and/or secure accounting software to review data with your accountant. This allows you to choose an accountant located anywhere in the world.  
  • Pay attention to qualifications: When deciding which accounting company is right for your business, look closely at their designation. It’s wise to employ a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). These financial professionals work in various accounting environments (government, private companies, private practice) and offer services including tax planning, financial document preparation and business valuations. CPAs are highly trained. To become a CPA in Canada you must obtain an undergraduate degree, enroll in the CPA professional education program, complete 30 months of relevant accounting experience, finish four education modules and pass the three-day Uniform Evaluation exam. When deciding which accounting firm to employ, don’t be shy about asking for evidence of qualifications. Ask to see their CPA member number. Search the CPA Canada database for their name. Inquire regarding what training courses they have recently attended. 
  • Consider experience: It’s important to have experienced people preparing your business’ tax returns and financial documents. Check to see if the accounting firm(s) you are considering has worked with companies in your sector. Ask what size of businesses they work with. Find out if their clients have grown and developed under the firm’s guidance. 
  • Note their knowledge base: Ask questions regarding the services offered and pay attention to how the accountant(s) answer. A reputable accounting business has a deep base of knowledge to draw upon when supporting your business. A good firm will manage your finances, improve cash flow management, enhance business growth and work within your budget. 
  • Notice how they answer questions: Can you understand the accountant? Do they overuse jargon and/or technical terms, making it difficult to comprehend their communication? Can they explain the tax laws in a way that you can grasp? Are they approachable? Choose accountants who are willing to ensure that you understand them. 
  • Look closely at their team: Take note of the office staff. How do they interact with you? When working with an accounting firm, you often deal with more than the CPA. Choose a firm with cordial, kind, knowledgeable and helpful staff. 
  • Get referrals: Take advantage of your network of business associates and advisors when choosing an accountant. Find out what firm other similar business owners recommend. Use your LinkedIn profile to search for accountants who are highly recommended. Consult with friends and family members regarding what accountant they use and why.
  • Do background checks: Talk to some of the clients of the firm you’re considering working with. This provides first-hand information about the accountant, their style, their effectiveness and the type of relationships they develop with clients. 
  • Think about software: Accountants often have preferred accounting software. If your company uses a different type of software there can be difficulty in sharing information. Look for an accountant willing to use the same software as your business. Another option is to choose collaborative, cloud-based accounting software with encryption built in. 
  • Interview several firms: Interview prospective accountants, comparing information regarding several accounting firms before making a selection. The similarities and contrasts between accountants help clarify the type of accountant that you need and want. 
  • Always negotiate fees: Some accountants charge by the hour, others charge a monthly retainer while others charge a percentage of your turnover. Get written quotations from all accountants being considered. Negotiate the fee structure to acquire the style that works for your company. 

Picking the right accountant for your business can be a challenge. A good accounting firm keeps track of your business’ income/assets/liabilities, examines financial records, assists with tax filing/bookkeeping/payroll, offers tax advice, prepares financial statements and helps with business decisions. An accountant is closely involved with the operation of your company making the decision of which firm to work with a serious endeavour. Choose wisely.

Looking for an accountant for your company? 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 make tax time a breeze. We assist you in making your business a success. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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