As a business owner, you cannot afford to make the mistake of hiring the wrong accountant. After all, your accountant will have access to the majority of your business’ sensitive information. There are many accountants out there, vying for your business. To help sort through them all and determine which is the right fit for you, follow these tips for how to choose the right accountant for your business:
Before you try to choose an accountant, you must determine what, exactly, you need out of your accountant. This will depend on the size, scope, and type of business you operate, as well as how much accounting work you are comfortable doing yourself. You may only need an accountant’s services when it comes to compiling financial statements and preparing your tax returns, or you may prefer to have an accountant handle many more aspects of your business, from payroll to retirement planning. You’ll need to sit down and find out if your prospective accountant can handle your needs.
There are two types of certifications that you might typically see behind an accountant’s name. A certified public accountant (CPA) is a person who has completed a certain level of educational requirements and passed an examination to prove competency. Additionally, CPAs are required to complete ongoing continuing education courses in order to maintain their licensed and certified status. A certified management accountant (CMA) is an individual who has also completed specific educational requirements and passed a certification examination. However, a CMA must have expertise in both accounting and the management of financial business performance. Consider the differences between the CPA and CMA designations when deciding what your business needs out of an accountant.
Areas of Specialization
Many accountants choose to specialize in one specific industry or type of service. For example, it is not unusual for accountants to focus primarily on nonprofits, service businesses, or upstarts. When shopping around for accountant candidates for your business, be sure to look specifically for accountants that have a proven track record of specializing in your particular business type.
Referrals and References
Reputation is one of the best measures of an accountant’s competence and expertise. Ask the people you trust, as well as other business leaders in your industry, who they recommend for accounting services. Once you’ve compiled a list of referrals in that way, ask potential accountants for several references. Create a list of questions you want to ask and then call all of the references you are given.
Your accountant will be central to some of the most important aspects of running your business. Therefore, choosing an accountant is no small task. Put the time and effort into making the right decision now to spare yourself (and your business) unnecessary hardship later down the line.