What to Look for in a CPA for Your Small Business

Keeping meticulous financial records, complying with financial regulations, and visionary financial planning are all critically important aspects of successfully running a small business long-term. It is, therefore, imperative to carefully research your options when selecting an accountant with whom you can entrust your company’s financial interests.

The first thing to do when retaining accounting services for your small business is to verify the accountant you’ll be working with is a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. Accounting professionals are only permitted to identify as licensed CPAs after they’ve passed a Uniform CPA exam and met all other educational and professional requirements mandated for CPAs in the state in which they practice.

In this article, the knowledgeable financial team at Ferguson Timar discusses additional considerations to ponder once you’ve identified a CPA who may be a good fit for the needs and culture of your small business. Once you’re confident in the qualifications and approach you’re seeking, connect with the reputable and experienced CPAs on our team to learn more about our firm’s small business CPA services.

Experience and Availability Matter

There are two primary aspects of a CPA’s accounting practice you’ll want to ensure before hiring them to manage your company’s financial interests. First, you’ll want to make sure the CPA you’re working with is highly experienced or – if they were recently licensed – that they’re collaborating with a team of seasoned CPA professionals. Accounting is a nuanced, technical, and consequential line of work.

Second, you’ll want to ensure the CPA has time to treat your company’s finances with the respect and care they deserve. If you’re working with the best CPA in town but they only have time to glance at your company’s numbers occasionally, your business will suffer. Make sure any CPA candidate is ready to treat your company’s account with the personalized attention and tailored guidance you’ll need to maximize the value of your arrangement.

Understanding How Accounting Firms Operate

Much like law firms and medical practices, each accounting firm is unique. Before entrusting your company’s finances to an accounting firm, you’ll need to understand what to expect from its operations. Inquire how client accounts are managed and how day-to-day challenges are managed. For example:

  • What do you charge and how are clients billed?
  • Will my company’s account be managed by a specific CPA or a team of CPAs?
  • How quickly do you return phone calls and emails?
  • How often can I expect to hear from my CPA/CPA team?

Setting Expectations

Once you’re confident the CPA’s experience, availability, and operations meet the needs of your company, assess whether you and your CPA candidate can mutually agree to a set of expectations for your arrangement. For example, you may require weekly reports concerning your company’s finances but the candidate you’re interviewing is only comfortable providing monthly or quarterly reports.

Don’t be afraid to “push back” and question a CPA’s methods if their approach doesn’t fit your needs. If you can’t mutually agree to a set of expectations for your arrangement, you can thank them for their time and schedule interviews with alternate candidates. Some of the considerations you’ll want to explore when setting expectations include:

  • How your CPA will monitor your cash flow, overdue accounts, etc., and report their findings to you
  • Whether any CPAs at the firm are Enrolled Agents capable of representing your company in IRS matters
  • How often your company’s finances will be reviewed and/or audited
  • Whether your CPA will be helping you to craft financial goals and tax strategy
  • How involved your CPA will be in setting up the day-to-day accounting protocols for your business

Overall, you’ll want to have the sense that a CPA candidate will be deeply invested in the financial health of your company and will work on your account regularly, not just when tax deadlines roll around.

Explore Trusted CPA Services Today

Choosing to work with a CPA can significantly benefit your small business but you’ll need to choose an experienced, accessible, and client-focused accounting firm if you want to maximize the potential of this relationship. Connect with the dedicated financial team at Ferguson Timar today to learn about our client-driven, personalized CPA services for small businesses. We look forward to speaking with you.