7 Important Questions to Ask an Accountant Before Hiring
Not all accountants are the same, and if you’re seeking out a new accountant but only paying attention to their rates, you could find yourself in tax trouble once the new year comes to a close. When you hire an accountant, remember that you’re hiring them for the foreseeable future, and a good one is necessary for the health and growth of your business over time.
With this in mind, read on for our top questions to ask an accountant when you’re just starting to look and inquire!
1. How Many Years Have You Been an Accountant?
This is one of the first questions you need to ask the accountant because it speaks to how much experience they have in the field. You want to work with an accountant who is used to dealing with small business owners and their particular tax needs.
Some small business owners in certain industries need to be compliant with different regulatory measures that change depending on each state. Ensure that the accountant is at least familiar with your industry or is part of the team that’s familiar.
This is especially important for highly regulated industries such as health care, manufacturing, food, and beverage, or energy.
2. What Are Your Fees?
It’s important that you know what to expect before you become committed with one accountant over another. While some companies bill on an hourly basis, others may bill monthly.
Along with how they’ll bill you in the future, you’ll need to keep in mind with the services they provide. For instance, if you want an all-in-one service that helps with monthly bookkeeping, payroll processing, and audit representation, this may be something a CPA is able to provide.
3. How Do You Communicate with Clients?
Even if the accountant you find is professional, personable, and knowledgable of your industry’s practices, it’s important that they’re able to communicate with you in the method you prefer. For instance, if you travel frequently and aren’t able to answer your phone, your accounting needs are going to go nowhere if your accountant doesn’t email or text.
Since you’ll probably be sending documents with personal information through email, ask the accountant if they’re familiar with encryption and other cybersecurity methods to keep your information safe.
4. What is Your Tax Philosophy?
Along with good communication through your preferred methods, you’ll also want to ensure that you both see eye-to-eye when it comes to tax philosophy. For instance, is the accountant more aggressive or cautious when it comes to deductions such as office space and travel dedications?
Perhaps you want as many deductions as possible, and while a more aggressive accountant will try to make it more, a more cautious one will take a more prudent path to avoid audits.
5. How Often Do You Meet With Clients?
An important detail to know is how often your accountant prefers to meet for tax consultations. While it’s easier to do everything once a year, you may be ignoring a tax problem for most of the year, only to be hit with it once the time comes.
On the other hand, meeting every quarter or at least mid-year may be safer because you’ll be able to head off any potentially huge tax problems. While you may be paying your accountant a little more for these more frequent meetings, they’ll also be ensuring that everything checks out.
6. How Many Clients Do You Work With at a Time?
This is an important question to ask in the beginning so that you can see how much time they have to spare on your own accounts. For instance, if this is one accountant working on their own with a large number of established clients, this could be an indication that you may not be getting enough attention in the future.
However, if this is a large accounting firm, a large number of clients may indicate that they’re simply successful at what they’re doing and have enough hands to spare to take you on. Use your best judgment when it comes to determining whether you’ll be a priority or not.
7. What’s One Time When You Helped Improve a Client’s Bottom Line?
Remember that these questions are basically a job interview. By asking this question, you’re seeing if your accountant is able to think outside the box for you and improve your business by seeing opportunities and offering suggestions.
For instance, there may be tax deductions you’re not asking advantage of, an employee benefits structure that’s not benefiting your company, or a different way for you to bill clients.
Knowledgable accountants should be able to find ways to save you more money in the longterm that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Top Questions to Ask an Accountant: Make Your Life Easier
By knowing these questions to ask an accountant, you’re interviewing a professional that could potentially make your business life easier. An accountant that’s familiar with your industry and your particular trials and tribulations will be able to find ways to save you more money and increase the productivity of your operations.
By making sure you share the same communication methods, that your accountant keeps your digital data safe, and that you share the same tax philosophy, you’re ensuring that you’ll be able to work with each other easily for years.
Are you a small business owner that wants to be prepared for IRS audits? Book a free consultation with us today!