Thursday, February 10, 2011

How do I Hire an Accountant?

That is a question I am asked when a client and I talk about the business team for a small business. It seems most people wanting to start a business are familiar with accountants for their personal uses but when it comes to using one for their business, they think it is so difficult or even so diffrent. I usually ask them how they sought out the one they have now? We discuss their answers and how they like the current person doing their personal books. From there we build on the conversation.

Hopefully the following tips will help you in deciding how to hire an accountant the next time you need one for your business.

1) How long has the accountant been in business? - you want to consider a minimum of five years but that is not set in stone; you need to feel comfortable with the person first.

2) What are the credentials the accountant has? - you do not want a person who has no professional training besides the degree he got 10 years ago. If they are fresh out of college, your call but if they have been in business for multiple years and no further professional education, then you may want to consider moving on. What kind of image does that send to you, as a customer, when they say "none" and you know the world of taxes, bookkeeping and financial matters is constantly changing - just in the part you have in managing your business.

3) How familiar is the acocuntant with your industry? - the best case situation is when you can find a person who knows your industry or at least has a client or two in your industry. You want your accountant to know the specialized industry practices you have to follow - you don't want to pay and train him at the same time.

4) How will the person track your financial changes? - you want the future accountant to encourage you to meet with him to go over your financials and help you avoid any surprises; you don't want him to tell you at the end of the year, "if only you had done this..., you would have avoided paying that....."

5) What are the fees and what do they cover? - ask upfront and don't be shy; you want to know what you are getting; nothing worse is when you thought you brought something only to find out later when you need it, it is not there. Specifically ask about phone calls for quick questions or the travel time from his office to yours - does he charge for them?

6) How does the accountant guarantee his work? - will he go with you to an audit and defend your business?

If the person you are talking to promises unrealistic financial management or the know how to get around taxes, feel comfortable to get up and walk out the door. You don't want to end up in tax court or find out you owe the Federal Government money you were not planning on paying to them.

Let me know your stories about choosing an accountant. Remember to check in and also give me your comments on this topic also. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your small business, call me at 573-243-3581 or email me at

Until next time.....

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