How to Find the Right Accountant
Selecting the right accountant has as much to do with finding a compatible working relationship as it does with technical acumen. What might seem like a good match based on the industry of expertise or services needed, could turn out to be a poor choice based on several other factors including communication styles, technology use and integration and more. Check out the list below for a list of items to consider when interviewing a potential accountant.
In the accounting profession, response times can be all over the map. One firm may respond in hours while another may respond in weeks. Faster does not always mean better, but it is important at the outset of an accountant relationship to establish those expectations for both parties.
Do you rely on the expertise of your professional advisors, or do you prefer to do your own research? There is no wrong answer as the advisory relationship can be collaborative or not. However, this is another common source of conflict and should be sorted out at the beginning of the relationship.
Attitude Regarding Taxes
Some taxpayers are more aggressive than their tax advisors, and some are more conservative. I once had a taxpayer refer to his tax return as “an opening offer”, which would have been a disqualifier for me. That does not mean I was right, and he was wrong – it just means we would have been a poor match.
Comfort with Technology
COVID changed the way many accounting firms do business and, perhaps, accelerated some trends that were bound to happen at some point anyway. Many firms have replaced face-to-face meetings and handoffs of paper documents with Zoom meetings and document uploads to cloud-based portals. If you yearn for one or the other, it is best to nail down the accountant’s processes and workflow ahead of time.
Delegation of Work and Communications
The nature of accounting work and deadlines requires most firm owners to delegate tasks to others within the firm. Those tasks often include being the primary contact for tax, accounting, and other client matters. When that handoff from firm owner to associate has not been cleared with the client, that can cause issues in the relationship or uncertainty as to who communication should be directed towards.
What is an accountant’s responsibility to provide outbound news and education to their clients? If you are content to be on a need-to-know basis as it relates to your tax and advisory services, your answer may be different than if you want to more actively participate in these areas. Lack of outbound advice is a common reason why taxpayers and business owners shop for new advisors.
Especially around tax deadlines, access to your accountant can be scarce. One workaround that some firms have deployed (ours included) is a concierge model that provides a broader array of services for a limited number of clients. By not relying so heavily on processing tax returns, this model fixes the access problem but at a higher fee. Fees and services need to be clearly spelled out in advance to make sure both sides are happy with the arrangement.
Think we might be a good match? Reach out to our team today!