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Help Me Find An Accountant! June 3, 2009

Posted by Julie Duriga, CPA in Uncategorized.
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AccountantWhen starting your business, one of the most important decisions you will make in your small business life is choosing an accountant.    The best place to start looking for an accountant is ask your friends and family to see who they use.  If your friends or family don’t use an accountant, check with your local SCORE office or a local small business incubator in your town.  Interview at least three accountants before you make your decision.

What are some questions that you can ask potential accountants? 

  • “Is the accounting and tax work outsourced to India?  If so, what is the review process when the returns are completed and returned to the US? ”   I don’t believe that outsourcing is a bad idea but I believe that it is something you should know and it may not occur to your accountant to disclose this to you.


  • “Do you feel that you work for the IRS or do you work for me the customer?”   I believe that the accountant should say that they work for you.  An accountant’s job is to inform you of the tax law and execute your requests as long as your requests are not fraudulent.


  • “How much do you charge?  Do you work by the hour?  Do you work by the tax return or by the job?  Will I be charged if I make an occasional phone call to you?”   It is surprising to me how many accountants put off  discussing their fees.   So, don’t be afraid to ask and monitor their expression to see if your potential accountant feels good about what they charge.


  • “Do you have employees?  If so, would I be working with a staff member?”   Ask to meet the staff member who will be doing your work. 


  • “Will you help me understand my financial statements?”    The financial statements are a necessary tool for your business but you must read your statements and understand them.   It doesn’t behoove you to pay someone to produce your statements and then not understand what the statements are telling you.  Ask your potential accountant if they will assist you in understanding what your numbers are communicating to you.


  • “Would you be willing to work with a team of professionals that I select?”  You may decide that you want to hire a bookkeeper, a tax planner and an accountant.  It is important to choose an accountant who is willing to work with many different people.    I would choose an accountant that would want to work with a team of people that you select rather than one who is resistant to the idea of working as part of your team.


  • What are your hobbies and what do you like to do outside of work?  I like this question because a well-rounded accountant is a happy accountant and who will be pleasant and responsive to you.


  •  “Do you prefer tax returns, audit work or accounting?”  If your accountant prefers tax work over bookkeeping,  then you might want to separate the duties to another person on your team.  We all do best at what we enjoy the most.


  • “Do you have an industry that you specialize in?”    Having an accountant who specializes in your industry is ideal but can be difficult in smaller towns.  If your accountant specializes in restaurants, as an example, they can educate you about benchmarks and industry standards so that you can compare yourself to others in your industry.

These questions will get you started in the interview process.  You should have a good feeling overall about your accountant and you should  feel confident in their technical ability.  Your relationship with your accountant is a very personal and you want to look forward to going to see your accountant.   Good luck in your search and good luck starting your business! 

Visit us at our website to get your free E-Book titled “How Do I Pay Myself? The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building a Business AND Bringing Home the Dough.”  www.UniversityForBusiness.com

We also offer a really cool twenty minute video about how running your business affects your bottom line. We use islands, cars and bridges to demonstrate the movement of profits and losses between your personal and business bank accounts. This immediate download is avaialble for only $6.99. Twenty minutes with a CPA for only $6.99, what a deal!



1. Paul - October 7, 2009

Some good questions to ask there, it is definately a tricky business making sure you select the right accountant to handle your finances. I wasn’t aware that some accountants outsourced their work to India, though maybe that is a little naive of me?

2. Chris Preen - February 22, 2010

Very good list. Too many people rush into appointing an accountant without sufficient research. Getting the right accountant is critical to a successful business.


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