|Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.|
Tax Help for Business Owners: How to Choose a CPA
For most growing businesses, the demands of financial management go well beyond the capabilities of a business owner. Though the size of the business doesn’t warrant hiring a financial officer, growing companies are typically in need of auditing services, or help with accounting strategies, or advice on balance sheet decisions, or assistance with implementing information systems.
The bottom line is that they are in need of more than just tax help; they’re in need of a CPA. Selecting the right person for the job is critical for business owners, so it is essential to know how to choose a CPA.
Though tax preparation is a primary function performed by CPAs, their real value is their ability to help business owners stay attuned to changing tax laws and emerging financial opportunities that can keep the business moving forward.
CPAs don’t come cheaply; however, their value to the business can be immeasurable. Because they can be hired through retainer or paid for performance, they are much more affordable than a dedicated employee. The key is to choose a CPA who can bring just the right services and expertise needed by the business.
Developing Company Specific Criteria
Identify business needs: Every business develops differently and has varying requirements based on such factors as size, industry, specialty, and pace of growth. At some point, businesses need to consider the need for more advanced accounting systems, analysis of financial data, financing assistance, tax representation, and compensation or benefit planning.
Establish minimum qualifications: All CPAs must be certified and licensed by the state. Some states require advanced degrees, and strict adherence to continuing education and experience can be a significant factor.
Consider the sources: The best way to find a CPA is through referrals from friends, business associates, other business owners, your banker, or your attorney. You can cross-reference any candidates with online directories through your state’s Society of CPAs to check their background, specialties, and experience.
Making the right fit: CPAs tend to specialize in specific industries, market niches, business types, and areas of financial expertise. Some CPAs are more connected within their community and have a better understanding of local markets. The most important criteria are the individual’s compatibility with your personality and vision.
Hiring a Relationship
Although you are not hiring an employee, hiring a CPA should be based on your desire for a long term
relationship wherein the CPA becomes a key member of your team. Taking all of your company-specific criteria, CPA candidates should be interviewed, evaluated, and selected as with any employee. A qualified candidate should be able to articulate his or her value proposition in terms that are directly relevant to your vision and your company’s specific needs and stage of development. CPAs hired on a retainer basis should be done so on a probationary basis with particular milestones that can be evaluated as a condition for permanent retention.Choosing the right CPA can be one of the more critical decisions a business owner can make. The right choice can translate into many years of extremely fruitful collaboration on the financial development of the company. The wrong choice, or choices, can be very disruptive and could seriously impede the growth of the business.
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