How to Find a Good Accountant
An accountant is a vital part of any business. Not only do accountants handle a company's taxes, they can also help determine whether or not certain moves will have an effect on taxes, such as buying a company vehicle or leasing computers. In addition, they can help employers when deciding whether or not to incorporate the business.
While having an accountant is important, it's even more important to find one who is qualified, competent, and honest, as a portion of the company's financial well-being lies in the accountant's hands.
So how do you go about finding a good accountant? There are a number of things to take into consideration and certain steps to take when looking for an accountant:
- Find an accountant familiar with the circumstances of your business. For example, if your business frequently involves work out of the country, you will need an accountant familiar with international tax laws. If you have a business conducted primarily online, your accountant should be internet-savvy. Once you have found an accountant who has experience in your area, you can go about finding a suitable one.
- Ask for referrals. Business associates, friends, and referral services that can be found on the internet can be very helpful in finding a good accountant. If an associate or acquaintance has had a good experience with their accountant and refers you to him or her, it can eliminate the guesswork associated with finding a good accountant.
- Conduct a phone interview. Call the prospective accountants you have narrowed your list down to and ask them a few questions, such as educational background, years of experience, size of their firm, and general information about their services. You should also ask for a detailed explanation of their billing policies and any fees associated with their work.
Selecting the Accountant
Once you've narrowed your search down and have an idea of who you want as your accountant, before you jump into hiring him or her, there are a few things you want to be certain of.
- Make sure the accountant is approachable. He or she should be professional. Returning phone calls in a timely manner and being reachable by either email or phone is important. It's a good idea to meet with an accountant in person as well. Since you will be working closely, it's important you are able to communicate effectively and get along together.
- Find out who exactly is going to be doing the work. You may like the accountant, but then find out he has an entry-level employee who will be doing the majority of the work for him. Make sure you are certain of the arrangement and comfortable with it. You may be paying fees for an experienced accountant who is having assistants or employees doing all the work, in which case you might as well hire an entry-level accountant.
- Make sure you know what services are included/provided. Will the accountant help you with your audit? Will he advise you on ownership structure or incorporation? Be sure you know exactly what you can expect.
A good accountant can mean the difference between a company that prospers and grows financially or one that tanks. By doing research, asking for referrals, and conducting interviews, you can find a good accountant who will become invaluable to your business.