How to choose the ideal accountant for your business

When you choose a partner, you do it with extreme caution, you know that it will be the person who will apply his or her good judgment to complement your skills and help you lead the business.

You should be equally careful when choosing the ideal accountant. This experienced and broadminded professional will become a partner, someone you will trust, whose advice and guidance will not only facilitate your business’ compliance with obligations, but will also promote good practices, productivity and growth.

Sadly, many small business owners don't envision a good accountant that way.

In the words of Brian Hamilton, founder and president of the financial information firm  Sageworks, commented in an interview with Forbes:

"The information in the financial statements is massively underutilized by both accountants and the clients they serve" ... "Simply by sitting down and reviewing financial information with their accountant, business owners can develop a good framework for future decisions."

However, choosing a good accountant  is not easy. Inc. Magazine in an article dedicated to this subject, argues that finding a good accountant is so difficult that it has become a kind of "joke" in the world of small businesses.

So, today we want to give you some practical guidance for this critical choice that can mark the compliance and results of your business. Here are some recommendations to find the ideal accountant.

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In-house or outsourced accountant?

Many small businesses do not reach a volume of financial transactions that justifies a full-time, or even a part-time, in-house accountant.

In such cases hiring an outsourced accountant, or an accounting services and consulting firm, is a first step towards the growth and consolidation of the business.

An outsourced accounting firm can provide you many benefits, such as financial planning, reviews, frequent reconciliations, and up-to-date accounting, as well as ensuring your good standing and compliance with state and local reporting obligations and paperwork.

The fees of a third-party accountant firm may be lower than the salary and benefits of a full-time professional. Other benefits of dealing with a good firm of outsourced accountants can be the high level of training and specialization, their experience in tax matters and the use of state-of-the-art accounting software.

Now, when the business reaches high corporate levels and the fees of an outsourced accountant or firm increase, you may find an internal accountant, or your own accounting department, more convenient and affordable.

This team will ensure the proper identification and recording of daily transactions, treasury accounts, cash, payroll, taxes and good state and local compliance.  



The qualification level

It is likely that your small business requires only someone who will process data entry (bookkeeping), reconciliations, reports and the basic accounting tasks; in such cases, an accountant, not necessarily certified, even an accounting assistant can meet these requirements.

Now, if you look further and require comprehensive advice on good financial and tax practices in order to optimize your expense structure and tax bill, you could consider the option of a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).  


Validate his or her experience

You will trust tax issues, financial documents, procedures and state compliance, as well as good management practices to a single individual or firm; so, obviously you should look for experience.

An important requirement is to verify the type of clients they handle and if they work, or have collaborated with, companies in a similar activity, since this will allow the professional to understand better the unique needs of your business model.

Inquire about their client portfolio, including details such as their gross income and number of employees; if they work or have worked with businesses larger than yours, it is a sign they are a resource capable of handling growing, changing and complex needs over time.

A sensible accountant would have no problem offering a selection of contacts as references, confirm their information available online and social networks before calling or writing to them.

More about Small Business Management: Human Resource Management in Small Businesses.  

Don't worry about geographical proximity

A few years ago, it was very important to have your accounting team close to the company’s location, its servers and confined accounting programs, but cloud computing changed that priority.

Today you can establish a solid collaboration with your accounting team working remotely with the support of technology.

The so-called ERP software hosted in the cloud allows you and your collaborators to view reports and information simultaneously. For example, you can work on a fragment of the daily book and see the same records, regardless of whether your business is in Florida and your support team is in Montana.

You can work with the ideal accountant for your business remotely and you don't need to make concessions based on your location, the technological marvel allows you to find a professional or a firm that truly understands the details of your business or industry.    


Versatility in accounting software and applications

Accountants and firms may have their preferred accounting software,  but if your company handles another one that is too different, that could bring inherent costs, work and errors.

It's important that you find out the type of software they master, that they use the same software you're familiar with. Or failing that, that they are willing to make concessions.

There is no reason why a professional or accountant firm cannot use more than one type of accounting software for their different clients.  


The ideal accountant for your business – Final Thought

Does it sound like asking too much? Not really, choosing the ideal accountant for your business is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Remember, he or she will be a partner, someone in whom you will trust a good part of the management, compliance and results of the business.

The ideal accountant for your business will be a resource for growth, will judiciously manage complex financial requirements, will offer advice on practical business issues, will lead to significant savings in procedures, time and money; he or she will be a partner in everything but registrations and property.

We wish you the best with your search! When looking for the ideal accountant, you can find what you are looking for in GBS Group.