Hiring someone to handle your money is an important investment. On the one hand, you need someone with integrity who will do the right thing at tax time and throughout the year, and on the other hand, you want someone wise and shrewd who can help you reduce your tax liability as much as possible. Finding a good balance between the two can be tricky. Whether you need an accountant for your business year-round, or to help you wade through complicated personal finances, they are an important asset. When people think about an accountant they often think only of taxes. And while yes, they can serve in that critical role, they can offer so much more. Ask these questions to find out who’s right for your financial success.
Do You Have Experience With My Unique Situation?
While accountants are trained in general practices, many of them go on to specialize. They choose an area of interest or one that they are good at to focus much of their time on. Much like many lawyers find a specialty, so do accountants. Some focus on small businesses, others work only with large corporations. You’ll even find accountants who help manage trusts and inheritance issues. It’s important to know why you want an accountant to find out if they can help you. Accountants who spend all their time with service-based businesses might not be a good fit if your business is a product-based one and vice versa.
How Long Have You Been Doing Business?
Longevity isn’t always a deal-breaker. However, it’s helpful to know if you’re their first accounting client right out of college. While hopefully, this isn’t the case, knowing how long they’ve been in business can give you a hint at their expertise. If you need an accountant for a relatively simple task like doing your taxes, you could choose one with less experience. If you need one to wade through years of previous tax returns to find something you may have missed, one with more experience would be invaluable. It’s okay to ask them how long they’ve been in business to evaluate if they are the right fit for you.
How Do I Know I Can Trust You?
There are many ways to evaluate their trustworthiness. Perhaps you found them online because they had great social media for accountants. Their socials all looked professional and helpful. They offered unique advice, and they shared client testimonials. Maybe someone in your professional network referred them from personal experience. However you found them, it’s vital to ask this question. You’re about to hand over personal financial data for them to evaluate and work through on your behalf.
What do past clients say about them? Find them on Google, Facebook, and even the Better Business Bureau. Read through all the positive and negative reviews. Remember that people are more likely to post a negative review. So, it’s important to evaluate how they handled the negative comments and to discover if the issue was resolved with the client.
How Much Do You Cost?
This is sometimes a difficult question for accountants to answer without knowing your precise needs. Some will offer a free short consultation, and others charge for this service. But a consult is an important piece to help them price your accounting needs accordingly. Many offer retainer services that ensure you get the help you need when you need it. If they aren’t upfront about their costs either through consultation or on their website, tread carefully. You don’t want to incur unexpected fees that they didn’t disclose.
How Quickly Do You Respond to Inquiries?
No one wants to be left hanging for weeks after they submit an inquiry or call to ask a question of their service providers. Ask them their typical response times before you hire them. Also, ask whether to expect the response directly from them or an associate or assistant. This question helps to set expectations from the start. There will be no confusion; you’ll know what to expect. It can ease frustrations and communication issues before they arise. It also lets you know how busy they are. Faster response times might mean they can handle larger projects from you without sacrificing quality.
Can We Meet In Person?
While it’s not 100% necessary to meet in person for every interaction, some financial data may be sensitive enough that you don’t want to send it online. In-person meetings help you share the information and to ask questions in person. Seeing someone face-to-face can help create trust and ease any hesitations you might have about hiring this person or firm to be your accountant.
What Services Do You Offer?
Maybe they focus solely on tax returns, or perhaps they help submit quarterly taxes for their client businesses. Ask your potential accountants for a list of all the different services they provide. It is helpful to know what they can do for you. As a business or individual, your needs change over time, and having professional services that can grow with you is critical. If you are like most people, you value amazing service providers and you will use them for anything they can do.