What to expect from your tax advisor

It’s been over 7,000 miles since your last oil change, so you drive over to the local mechanic for a quick servicing. You’re a few pages through a magazine when the mechanic walks in and proceeds to tell you that your car is about to fall apart. The good news: they can replace the part for you today. The bad news? It’s going to cost $2000. While the last thing you want is for your car to fall apart, you can’t help wonder: are you being swindled?

For most of us, our knowledge of auto mechanics doesn’t exceed our gas tank, so we assume our 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 bamboozled.

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, here are a few key things to expect from your tax accountant to ensure your company is getting the best service.

Signs of a good CPA relationship

Working with a CPA who is proactive will prevent problems way before they happen. Most clients assume that 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.

How do you know if you’re working with a proactive tax firm? A proactive tax firm maintains contact with clients about once a quarter to inquire about the health of the business. With more frequent contact, proactive advisors are able to make the adjustments to payments to ensure accuracy throughout the year rather than surprising clients with a giant tax bill at the end of the year.

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.

Key CPA firm qualities to look for

It’s a good idea to start with identifying the qualities of the CPA firm you are working with or are planning to work with. Here are a few things to look for:

The integrity of the firm

The integrity of a CPA firm is key. 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 a great 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 certain industry, work a CPA with that specific knowledge and who has clients doing the same thing. It’s important 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 competency of their CPA firm and are unaware of it. It’s important to work with a firm that can handle your growth and complexities and is providing the level of service you need or that you’re paying for.

How to spot the red flags

How do you know if a CPA firm is delivering the best service or whether it’s time to cut the cord and move on? Here are two red flags to consider:

Response time

If your CPA doesn’t get back to you quickly, 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 service their clients well.

Avoidance

You may have questions regarding deductions your business may qualify for. 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 really knowing.

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 partners, ensuring that your tax accountant is working in your best interest and avoiding any bad advice that may lead you down a costly path.

If you’re overwhelmed or unsure where to start, contact us today. Signature Analytics has a history of vetting and partnering with a number of CPA firms in a variety of industries. In doing so, we can help your tax CPA focus on getting more done, in less time this season.