For most small businesses, it is more cost-effective to outsource their bookkeeping, payroll, accounting, and tax service needs, to an outside accounting firm than it is to hire the required in-house staff for the same. The key is to find the right accounting firm.
Here are some of the things to consider while selecting a small business CPA firm:
Is the firm specialized in serving small businesses like yours? A CPA firm specialized in serving small businesses is likely to understand and address the challenges unique to small businesses more effectively than a CPA firm that is not. In addition, such a CPA firm is likely to be efficient and agile in serving your needs as its services, processes, and operations are likely to be built just to serve small businesses.
Does the firm have expertise in areas relevant to your needs? Understand your needs first before seeking a solution. For example, if your internal staff handles your accounting and bookkeeping but you need outside help for certain types of taxes, then hire a CPA firm that is expert in those types of taxes, preferably in your industry. If you want to setup a retirement plan for yourself and/or for your employees, hire a CPA firm that is also a financial advisor.
What credentials and licenses in accounting and finance do the firm employees have? Most highly-recognized professional credentials in accounting and finance, such as CPA, CFP, CFA, PFS, EA, etc., have requirements for continuing education and compliance with their standards. This is to ensure that the professional is not only knowledgeable about the subject matter, but also that his/her knowledge is the most up-to-date one. It’s always wise to hire professionals with the highest professional credentials in the field of your needs.
What is the firm’s client callback policy? One of the main reasons to hire a small local CPA firm is the ease of access. Ask whether they have a policy of returning client’s calls within 24 hours and addressing their queries within 72 hours. Also, find out whether they will be available over the weekend for an occasional urgent situation.
Is the firm also skilled in preparing personal tax returns and providing other personal finance services, if needed? Most small businesses are flow-through business entities whereby their business profits and losses flow through their personal tax returns at the year-end. Therefore, as a small business owner, you need a CPA firm that has experts in not only accounting and business taxes but also in personal finances. Such CPA firm applies a holistic view to your finances in devising optimal tax strategies.
Does the firm have a strong referral network for your other professional service needs? For many small businesses, their CPA is their most trusted source for many great referrals. You should be able to count on your CPA for reliable referrals for your other professional service needs such as legal, financing, banking, investment, and insurance. Once you hire the right CPA firm, it should become your primary source for other reliable professionals.
As a small business owner, your CPA should be your most trusted advisor for both your business as well as your personal financial service needs. Do your due diligence while searching for a CPA firm that is right for your needs.