Why Use A CPA?

Posted on May 20, 2011

Finding a CPA may seem like a daunting task, especially if you have not worked with a CPA in the past or need to find a new one due to a relocation or other life change. You want a partnership with someone who will take the time to get to know you and your business. You also need someone who is willing to learn and understand how your business works, in order to help you achieve your long-term goals.

Here are some tips to consider:

Talk to people. Ask your friends, your banker, your lawyer, and other business owners you know about their CPA. Your network of acquaintances is the best place to start. What do they like about their CPA? Why would they recommend them? When you meet with the CPA, ask for references. Any good CPA should have plenty of satisfied clients willing to talk to you about their great experience.

Look for compatible personalities/goals. You want to have a good feeling when you first meet the CPA. You want to feel like the CPA is listening to you when you describe your situation and your needs, and that s/he is willing to work with you in a way in which you are comfortable, and can explain things to you in language you can understand. Also, ask if the CPA is experienced with your industry or type of personal tax situation. Consider whether the CPA takes time to ask you questions, to gain more insight into you and your business.

Ask about services that are offered. Accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation services just scratch the surface of what a CPA can do. This may be all you are looking for, or you might need a more full-service partnership that includes payroll and bill paying. Does the CPA offer the services that you need? Also try to find out whether you will be continuing your relationship with the CPA you are interviewing, or if you will sometimes work with someone else in the firm. No matter what your specific needs, you want a trusted advisor to help you make smart decisions to keep your business healthy and growing.

Find out about technology. Not all tax systems are created equal. When talking with the CPA, ask questions about the kinds of technology that are used in the office. Also, find out if the office is paperless, or if most business is conducted through hard copy. Ask if e-mail is an acceptable way to send documents, or if postal mail and/or FAX is preferred. How does this fit in with your personal or business technology, and the way that you operate on a day-to-day basis? For example, hard copy/postal mail might work well if you are local to the CPA, but maybe e-mail would be a better option if you are remote.

Ask about fee schedule options. Be sure to ask how the CPA bills for services - hourly, flat fee, or monthly retainer are some common methods. What is covered and what might be considered an “extra charge”? Are there any additional fees that you should know about up-front? It may be helpful to bring your business documents and past tax returns to your initial interview, so the CPA can get a feel for what you have and give you a better estimate of what your fees may be.

Why choose a CPA?

  • CPAs are required to pursue continuing professional education to keep them current with the latest business and tax issues.
  • CPAs are governing by a strict code of professional ethics that emphasizes their commitment to serve the public.
  • CPA firms regularly undergo independent reviews by their peers in the profession to ensure their services and procedures meet high quality control standards.

Did you ever hear of a kid playing accountant -- even if they wanted to be one?”
~ Jackie Mason