Asking the right questions can help you decide if a Utah accounting company is a good fit for you and your business.
When we meet with prospective clients at Cook Martin, many don’t seem to know what questions to ask.
That’s understandable since the role of an accounting company for businesses remains a mystery for many.
1. What industries is your accounting firm familiar with?
It’s important to find an accountant that has experience with your industry. For example, a construction company needs to handle contract workers, while a real estate development firm has unique criteria for reporting income, and a restaurant has their own rules for wages and tips.
Find an accountant who knows the ins and outs of vertical.
2. When are you available?
Some people are interested in hiring an accountant to help during tax season, but others will need year-round help.
However, some accounting firms shut down after April 15th and don’t reopen until the next tax season.
Most small businesses need some help all year round. It’s not advisable to wait until tax season to address questions about your tax issues.
Make sure your accountant has availability that suits your needs.
3. What are your qualifications?
Most small businesses can benefit from a certified public accountant (CPA). They go through rigorous certifications and are likely to have a lot of experience with financial planning issues.
There are also Enrolled Agents (EA), who are certified by the federal government. They’re trained specifically to handle taxes and often are former IRS agents.
4. Who will be doing the work?
For most Utah CPA firms, the person you work with will depend on your needs. For example, if you need tax planning, there may be a specialist for that service.
Some accountants outsource work to a third party. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s good to know before you start. Make sure it will be easy to communicate with the third party directly.
Oftentimes, a lower level employee will be doing the 'grunt' work, while the CPA you work with will be handling the more advanced services.
5. What tax programs do you use?
The tax program doesn’t need to be the deciding factor when choosing an accountant, but it’s worthwhile to ask about it.
QuickBooks is extremely popular with small businesses, so if you use QuickBooks, it may be a good thing to find an accountant that excels in QuickBooks.
With it, your financial information can easily be transferred to different accountants. If your prospective accountant uses a less-well-known software, this could make it difficult to switch down the road.
6. How will we communicate?
It’s important to have a clear understanding of how you will send your financial information and documentation. You may prefer to have physical meetings or maybe you’re comfortable sending information electronically.
Discuss how often you will communicate and through what channels.
Keep these questions in mind when you’re deciding which accounting company is the best fit for your needs. Asking the right questions will make the decision process more effective.