Hiring an Accountant
There are many things to consider before hiring an accountant. Would you rather hire an independent accountant or a large accounting firm? Will you ask your accountant for business advice or just ask them to file your taxes? Will you ask them to help you clean up your QuickBooks file or is it not important to you that your accountant is even familiar with QuickBooks? When hiring an accountant, I recommend that you:
- Find an accountant with the right experience for your business
Accounting rules are numerous and can be complex. You will benefit from working with someone who is familiar with the types of issues you are likely to face. Ask potential accountants if they have worked with other businesses in your industry and of your size. If you operate in multiple states or have international subsidiaries, ask potential accountants if they have experience with these things.
- Hire an accountant that will get back to you quickly
The best way to find out whether or not a potential accountant will be responsive is to ask to talk to some of the accountant's customers. If you can't do this, note how quickly they get back to you when you are interviewing them.
- Think about what you want from your accountant
Some accountants love thinking about their clients' businesses and can provide great business advice. Others are great from a tax perspective, but don't make an effort to understand their clients' businesses. Think about what you want and ask potential accountants what they like to do. If you want your accountant to function as a business consultant, then tell them about your business in your first meeting. You should be able to tell by the questions they ask and the comments they make if they will add value as a consultant.
- Verify that your potential accountant is familiar with your accounting system
Odds are that if you use QuickBooks, you want an accountant that is comfortable with QuickBooks. If you use Peachtree, you want an accountant that is familiar with Peachtree. If you aren't sure if this is important to you, then it probably is. If you are very experienced with bookkeeping and accounting, then this might not be an issue for you.
- Think about the pros and cons of large and small accounting firms
Large accounting firms offer the advantage of having a large group of accountants with a wide variety of specialties. If your company faces many complex accounting issues, then a large firm might make sense. On the other hand, you are likely to get more attention from your accountant and to get to know your accountant if you work with a small firm.
- Ask for references
Checking references for your accountant is just as important as checking references for potential employees. It only takes a minute and you can get a lot of valuable information.