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Choose your CPA Wisely: Top 10 Questions to Ask when Hiring an Accountant

May 15, 2021
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Choosing a San Antonio CPA to serve your tax, accounting and business needs requires some effort. Be prepared to ask some tough questions of a prospective CPA in order to ensure they are suited to your needs. Approach the selection process methodically as your relationship with your accountant will hopefully endure for many years. Ideally, they will become a trusted advisor whose counsel you seek on a variety of accounting-related matters.

First though, before you begin your search, be sure to clearly identify your accounting needs. Ask yourself if you need a specialist? Do you need one with international accounting knowledge? Would you need them on a retainer or annual basis etc.?  Every accountant and accounting firm has specialties so by clearly articulating your requirements, you will be able to narrow your search to those San Antonio CPA’s who offer the specific services you seek.

Once you know what you need, then ask each prospective accountant a series of questions to help you make an informed choice of accounting partner.

Top 10 Questions to Ask when Hiring an Accountant:

Here are 10 questions that will help you narrow down your selection:

  1. How long has your firm been in business?

A good accountant with a solid track record can have a huge, positive impact on your company. They can ensure your company thrives so ensure the accountant has worked with similar sized businesses so they understand the challenges and regulations you face.

2. Can you provide references ideally from clients in similar lines of business or with similar requirements?

A natural follow up question would be to ask for references. A confident, qualified accountant will be happy to provide them.  If you are able to speak with an existing client of theirs, you will be able to better gauge if they are suitable.  Obviously, if there is a reluctance to furnish references, be wary and walk away.

NOTE: Yes, you want them to have experience within your industry but perhaps not with your primary competitor(s)!

    3. Will one accountant be assigned to my business?

As a small to medium-sized business, you will want to ensure your matters are handled by one accountant in order to develop rapport and trust and ensure continuity year over year.

4. What are your preferred methods of communication?

Depending on your personal preferences this may or may not be important but should be made clear from the get-go.  Will regular in-person meetings (COVID aside) be scheduled or will all conversations and document exchanges be conducted electronically?

   5. What do you think of the accounting system we currently use?

This question may reveal an opportunity for business improvement; perhaps your current system is hindering growth or efficiency or maybe a simple evaluation of your accounting systems would be of benefit to your company. You will also want to engage someone who is at least familiar with the systems you use.

6. Based on your experience, what tips would you share to prepare me for tax season?

Tax season is always a stressful time but there are ways to alleviate some of the pressure. Hopefully, you will elicit a response that includes measures you can take throughout the year to position you well far in advance of tax deadlines. You will want an accountant who will provide guidance re. document gathering, new tax laws and deadlines throughout the year to avoid a year-end crush.

7. How are your fees calculated?

Whether an accountant charges hourly or on a fixed-fee basis or otherwise, you should know up front. Billing surprises are never welcome!

8. How do you stay abreast of industry developments?

This question should reveal how up-to-date an accountant is and whether they are open to new ideas and trends that may ultimately save you money or help your business flourish.  It also ensures they stay atop of current and potential risks that may impact your business.

9. What sets you apart as an accountant?

Hopefully the accountant can provide a confident, well-articulated response outlining a few ways they differentiate themselves from competitors.

10. How can you help me grow my business?

Perhaps the most important question given that growth is the goal of most every business – asking this more open-ended question last should yield interesting and informative answers that could be key to your final decision.  Accountants are financial and tax experts and should be able to provide some clear answers on how best to promote growth, avoid obstacles and minimize your tax exposure.

Once you’ve collected responses from prospective CPA’s or accounting firms, you will have done your due diligence and be in an informed position to choose the right accountant for your business.  Remember, the relationship may last for years so this decision should not be taken lightly – choose carefully and wisely!

At the Gonzales Group, our success is based on your success. We have proudly served the small and medium sized business community in San Antonio for over 30 years providing accounting, tax prep and planning, financial and legal and payroll services.  Contact us for more information on our services.

We’re accepting new clients! Contact us for more information on our services and to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced San Antonio TX CPA.

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This post was written by Gonzales Group CPA

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