It’s been over 7,000 miles since your last oil change, so you drive to the mechanic for a service. You’re a few pages through a magazine when the mechanic informs you that your car is on its last legs unless you permit them to fix one specific part.
The good news: they can replace the part for you today. The bad news? It’s going to cost $2,000. While the last thing you want is for your car to fall apart, you can’t help but wonder: are they manipulating the situation to their monetary advantage?
For the average person, knowledge of auto mechanics doesn’t exceed our gas tank, so we make the assumption and leap of faith that the mechanic has our best interests at heart. Without expertise in a given industry, we lack the competency to ask the right questions to ensure we get the best service and keep us from being deceived.
Your tax advisor shouldn’t be an exception.
Whether you have been working with the same tax advisor for years or if this is your first year with a new CPA firm, there are a few key things to expect from your tax accountant to ensure your company is getting the best service.
Your CPA is good if they do this
Working with a CPA who is proactive will prevent problems way before they happen. Most clients assume their tax advisor will not only be proactive but is comprehensive in their knowledge of the client’s business. Unfortunately, it’s more common for the tax accountant to wait until the end of the year to get involved and before asking for all your information and processing it.
So how do you know if you’re working with a proactive tax firm? One sign is they maintain contact with clients quarterly to inquire about the health of the business. With more frequent contact, proactive advisors can make adjustments to payments to ensure accuracy throughout the year, rather than surprising clients with a large and unexpected tax bill at year-end.
What makes a tax firm a good fit for your business? It is helpful if the CPA working with your company has had experience working with other clients within the same industry since they have most likely learned from working with those clients. For instance, if a similar client qualified for something like the domestic production deduction, the CPA will be more apt to see if their other clients qualify as well.
Essential qualities to look for in a CPA firm
It’s a good idea to start by identifying the qualities of the CPA firm you are working with or are planning to work with in the future. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
The integrity of the firm
The integrity of a CPA firm is critical. It doesn’t matter whether the firm is large or small; what matters is the individual working on your account. You may choose a well-known firm with an excellent reputation, but if the accountant working on your stuff isn’t attentive, or overloaded with clients, you’re more likely to endure poor service.
The sophistication of the firm
Some firms specialize in certain things. If your business is involved in a particular industry, work with a CPA with that specific knowledge and who has clients in the same field. It’s essential to find a CPA firm that fits the level of what your business is doing.
- The competency of the firm
The time may come when a client outgrows the skill set of their CPA firm and are unaware of it. It’s important to work with a firm that can handle your growth and the complexities that come with it, as well as one that can provide the level of service you need.
Is it time to find a new firm?
How do you know if a CPA firm is delivering exceptional service or if it’s time to move on? Here are three red flags to consider:
If your CPA doesn’t get back to you within an appropriate response time (most would agree within 24 hours), responds abruptly, or is just not helpful, these are all signs of a bad relationship.
Poor working relationship
A CPA who only corresponds via email, despite you asking to speak with them over the phone, is another bad sign. Whether the CPA is is overworked, too busy, or has too many clients, they are not acting in the client’s best interest and will not serve their clients well.
You will inevitably have questions for your CPA firm. Those questions may revolve around everything from the paperwork that needs to complete to deductions for your business. If your tax CPA is avoiding or unwilling to answer your questions, or answers your questions in a way that you don’t understand, this could mean the CPA is getting away with doing as little or as much as they want without you knowing.
How to avoid the wrong advice
Even if your tax CPA is proactive and is well-versed in your industry, it may be beneficial for your company to partner with a business advisor. A good business advisor has the expertise to advise clients based on their strategic partnerships, ensuring that your tax accountant is working in your best interest and avoiding any bad advice that may lead you down a costly path.
Read More: Accountability Partners and Why You Need One
If you’re overwhelmed or unsure where to start, contact us today. Signature Analytics has a history of vetting and partnering with several CPA firms in a variety of industries. In doing so, we can help your tax CPA focus on getting more done by adding more value this season.