Are you a budding entrepreneur with a knockout idea for a new business? Do you recognize that operating a successful business takes more than just an idea, product or service? Do you have the necessary experience in all of the areas that drive business growth such as sales, marketing, human resources?
More specifically, whom can you trust to handle your accounting? Tax compliance, all those IRS forms, payroll (and payroll tax processing) are time-consuming and seem to change constantly. And let’s not forget the painful penalties when not done timely or properly.
Should you ask people in your personal or professional network for a recommendation for a bookkeeper or accountant? What about the Yellow Pages (does this still exist?)? How can you locate an accounting firm that is ideal for the particular needs of your business?
It’s About Trust
Sure, your friends will have recommendations most of the time, but do really want your friend Bill’s younger sister handling your books? Checking the online listings is another way to source an accounting firm, but how will you know if they are any good? Who can you trust?
Seek a bookkeeper that is at least supported by a Certified Public Accountant, and here is several reasons why.
- Although a CPA has to earn his licensing credentials, bookkeepers do not. Too many bookkeepers struggle to stay up to date on the ever-changing tax code. A CPA has to, in order to maintain his/her license.
- Look for a firm that provides services on a fixed fee basis, so you know what you are going to pay before you even start. You should insure that the bookkeeping firm is also experienced in providing tax preparation. In most instances, you will use a CPA for tax purposes anyway, so why pay for partial work, then pay someone else to complete the process?
- CPA’s are bound by accountant-client privilege . A bookkeeper may not be.
- If you employ an in-house bookkeeper, how will you address time off for sick days, dental appointments, vacations and other factors that keep the employee out of the office? When you outsource your accounting department there is a consistent workflow.
- It just makes good business sense. You wouldn’t hire a law student to represent you in court, why would you trust your financial information and filings to a bookkeeper? And which would you rather trust to provide you with business advice that may affect your financial future?
- There are numerous reasons why it makes sense to trust an outsourced accounting service such as Bond Andiola & Company, or other qualified firms. They are in the business of providing a diverse offering of services and backed up by advanced and ongoing education, license, and certification.
Finding CPA’s You Can Trust
There are a lot of ways to find a CPA, but you want to find the right CPA to handle your financial needs. Networking at the local Chamber of Commerce will almost always produce some qualified candidates. Of course, you’ll want to interview them to see if there might be a good fit. Life is far too short to work with someone with whom you are not compatible. They may hold a CPA license, but are they a quality individual? Remember the movie “The Firm” where the law firm appeared to be up and up, but were lawyers for the mob? Do your homework and perform a deep background check on the company with Dun & Bradstreet, the Better Business Bureau, and their other clients and what it says about them on the Internet.
Referrals from businesses of similar nature is a great way to identify a quality accounting firm to handle your books. Ask around, call on similar businesses to find out how they perform, what their pricing structure looks like, and the personalities of those working there. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a nationwide consultancy, but it would be better to have a company rather than a single individual, just for the sake of depth of field when heavy workloads come in.
If all else fails, there is a professional organization called the American Institute of CPAs. They provide some search tools, organized by discipline, which can be found here. Find a CPA. They don’t provide referrals but can help you narrow your search geographically and by area of expertise.
Size Each Other Up
Don’t think that just because you are a relatively new business, or whatever your circumstances are, you have as much a right to question their abilities and personalities as they do about you. As I mentioned, having an acrimonious relationship with your accounting service is too much to handle. You want to be as friendly together years from now as you are on day one. Life’s too short.
Think about the type of information you seek. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Tell me about your service portfolio.
- What makes you unique in the marketplace?
- Where in the price spectrum to your clients find you?
- Tell me about your clients that are similar to my business.
- Do you have a secure portal for sending and receiving data?
- If I call up and ask for advice often, can I expect full cooperation?
- Will I have an account representative that will work directly with me or my staff person?
- If I were to call one or two of your clients, what will they tell me about you and your company?
There are a couple of extremely important questions in this sampling. You’ll probably have more, but do not leave the following 2 out of your interview:
- Tell me about your clients that are similar to my business. You want to ensure the firm has clients in a similar business so you don’t have to educate them on the intricacies of your business.
- If I were to call one or two of your clients, what will they tell me about you and your company? Obviously, you are going to ask for a candid response when interviewing the clients you collected from the question we just discussed. To keep matters brief yet gather the information you need most, try asking the client business owner this: “If your accounting company raised its prices 20% tomorrow, would you remain their customer? Why?
Of course, you can ask anything you like, but make sure to interview other clients. The aforementioned two critical questions should tell you what you need to know prior to selecting your accounting firm.
Operating a successful business takes more than just an idea, product or service, and the right partnership can have a lasting impact on the success track of any business. We at Bond Andiola & Company take great pride in how our clients feel about us and we of them. Want to learn more? Call for a no obligation consultation, have a coffee and get to know us. We’re ready when you are.