By: Katelyn J. Dougherty, Esq.
Originally Published January 16, 2020 – Updated January 6, 2023
As we enter into the joyous time of tax season, you may find yourself in need of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for your business(es). Choosing the right CPA can be a critical decision for both individuals and businesses because they can provide valuable financial advice, tax planning, and other accounting services. However, with so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which CPA is the right fit for your specific needs.
Here are some tips for selecting the right CPA:
1. Location: Where is their office located? You don’t want to be forced to travel an hour for a twenty-minute meeting. However, some CPAs offer sophisticated virtual services that make in-person meetings unnecessary. A distance CPA who is highly specialized in your industry may be a better choice than one who happens to work across the hall, so this is only one factor to consider.
2. Suitability: Does the CPA work primarily with individuals, businesses, or both. You want a CPA with the ability and knowledge to meet your specific needs. If you operate a restaurant, for example, select a CPA who is familiar with your industry.
3. Comfortable: You want to be sure you are comfortable with the CPA you choose as they will be privy to the financial components of your life and business. If you’re making a selection because of a specific professional, be sure to confirm that it is that person who will be working on your matters and not an associate from the firm.
4. Fees & Compensation: Be sure to ask how the CPA expects to be compensated. Determine if the CPA’s fees are in line with your budget and expectations. Some CPAs charge hourly rates, while others charge a flat fee or a percentage of the services provided. Make sure you understand the fee structure before committing to their services.
5. Reputation: Make sure you are doing your due diligence and inquiring about the CPA’s reputation. You want to look for a CPA who has a good reputation in the industry and has positive reviews from previous clients. You can check online reviews, ask for referrals, or check their website for testimonials. If they have been referred to you, inquire as to why they come recommended. Has the referral source used them before, or are they getting a form of compensation for the referral? It’s ok to ask around.
6. Communication: Make sure you can understand what your prospective CPA is telling you. If you are constantly having issues understanding their advice, ask them to explain things in your preferred style, or find someone that better meets your needs.
7. Firm Size & Expertise: Whether you wish to hire a CPA from a large firm, or a solo practice, look for a CPA with experience in your industry or specific financial needs. This can provide valuable insights and guidance that can help you navigate complex financial challenges. You’ll want to confirm they have the skillset and resources to meet your needs. For example, if you’re dealing with a lot of securities or cryptocurrency, make sure the CPA has experience in those areas.
8. Availability: Ensure that the CPA you choose has the capacity to handle your needs and is available when you need them. A CPA who is always busy or unavailable may not be the best fit for your needs.
9. Ask Questions: Go ahead and ask some basic questions when interviewing the prospective new CPA. If they always seem too unsure or nervous about their answers, then it is time to move on to the next interview.
10. Unbiased Advice: If you have partners or investors, and the CPA also does their personal taxes or is the CPA for their other businesses, you may want to find a “new” CPA that doesn’t have strong ties that could give a partner or investor too much influence.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start your CPA search; once February arrives, they enter the zone of very limited availability!
And remember, when interviewing CPAs, you always have the option of having your business attorney participate and ask questions necessary to ascertain a level of competence.
Not sure where to start? Contact us so that we may help you find the right fit.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is for educational purposes only and does not offer nor substitute legal advice. This blog does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not for advertising or solicitation purposes. Any of the content contained herein shall not be used to make any decision without first consulting an attorney. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision not to be based on advertisements or blogs. Harbour Business Law expressly disclaims any and all liability in regard to any actions, or lack thereof, based on any contents of this blog.