Hiring an accounting firm is one thing, but hiring a reliable accounting firm that doesn’t only keep your finances on track but also provides expert advice and guidance is a different ball game.
Deciding on which accounting firm to partner with is almost (if not equally) just as important as choosing the person to marry. Keep in mind that your accountant will be intimately involved in your personal finances or operations of your business, so it should be someone you can trust and one who will be there whenever you need them.
However, with a slew of accounting firms out there, choosing one that can provide the greatest value can be a challenge. So what are the most essential things to look out for in an accounting firm?
Expertise and Credentials
If you’re planning to hire an accounting firm, better hire one with a team of certified professionals with the right skill sets and expertise.
Depending on your country, accountants may be called Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Accountants. The title may differ but one thing stays the same: they are regulated by professional bodies in order to maintain high standards.
Although relatively simpler tasks such as bookkeeping and tax preparation don’t require such certifications, you can rely on certified accountants for more advanced finance duties and for things like audits and getting a loan.
Also, just as doctors have specializations, accountants may also be experts in particular niches. So consider choosing an accounting firm that has extensive experience in working with professionals or businesses in your specific market sector. The advantage of this is that such an accountant has insider knowledge and already knows exactly how to address your industry-specific needs and challenges.
Before finalizing an arrangement with an accounting firm, you should know if its team has experience in preparing financial documents and taxes for businesses of a similar size and revenue as yours. The bottom line is that relevant expertise and experience is a huge indicator that the accounting firm is a great fit.
The economic environment constantly evolves and market landscapes increasingly become competitive so you need to be able to adapt. In these modern times, it’s important to learn how to work smart by embracing the power of technology.
Gone are the days of manual data entry and old school spreadsheets. Make sure that the accounting firm that you partner with uses market-leading cloud-based accounting systems and innovative tools that can make your life easier.
The advantage of cloud-based technologies is that they can streamline your processes, improve operational efficiency, and provide 24/7 real-time access to your financial data wherever you are in the world. Reliable cloud systems are also secure, easily upgradeable and scalable, and can back up your data automatically so you won’t have to worry about lost data.
What better way to learn how good and trustworthy an accounting firm is than by hearing from the people who have had first-hand experience with it?
Start your search by asking friends, family, and professional connections for recommendations. However, keep in mind that this is still a personal decision that you have to make for yourself.
So it’s still recommended to do an independent online search, especially if the recommendations you received don’t seem to fit your requirements. Interview your shortlisted candidates to learn more about them.
However, before you sign a contract, do your homework and research about the accounting firm. Check for online reviews and don’t hesitate to ask for their references or previous clients that you can reach out to.
Take some time to hop in a short call with them to learn about your prospective accountant and find out if they have been satisfied with their experience. If the accounting firm you’re considering hiring is genuine, it’s likely that they will be willing to give you some contacts.
Personality and Approach
Remember that you will work closely with your accountant. So when hiring an accounting firm, make sure that the team members are people you won’t dread having frequent interactions with. Are they friendly and accommodating? Or do they make you feel like you’re just a number?
You wouldn’t also want to hire someone who intimidates you, whether intentionally or not, with accounting jargon. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Awesome accountants speak in simple language that you can easily comprehend.
This kind of people will also make you feel more at ease in discussing your finances and 100% comfortable in asking questions without worrying if it sounds like a stupid question.
Also, it’s recommended to hire an accounting firm with a client-centered approach. The best accountants put their clients’ interests at the forefront and are proactive.
Are they proactive enough to suggest ways on how you can save money in taxes through legal means or grow your business’ profitability?
Accounting firms vary in terms of how much and how they charge. Some charge by the hour, while others charge a fixed monthly rate. So while you’re in talks with several shortlisted accounting firms, learn about their fees and possible additional charges such as for business travels or consultation.
Request for written quotations from the accounting firms you’ve spoken with and compare them carefully. Narrow down your list by retaining those that fit your budget, but don’t immediately choose the cheapest one.
Decide based on the value that the accounting firm can bring and how suitable it is in terms of addressing your specific needs.
Whether it’s for your personal or business finances, hiring an accounting firm can undoubtedly bring significant benefits. Accountants can help you stay on top of your income, assets, and liabilities, achieve more tax savings, and grow your business or personal wealth.
However, not all accountants are created equal. We hope this article can help you choose the right accounting firm to work with.
By considering these five most important factors, you’ll be able to find the ideal accounting firm that can serve as your long-term partner in achieving your financial goals and securing your future.