When it comes to choosing an accounting firm for your business, making the right decision is crucial. Entrusting your financial matters to professionals who understand your unique needs and can help you achieve your goals is essential. In this blog post, we will explore the top questions that should be asked when selecting a new CPA firm.

Your  Accounting Needs

  • Ask the CPA firm how they can help you achieve your long-term business growth plans.  The answers you receive from this question could be very telling.  You should be able to recognize if the CPA firm only provides tactical services or if they also provide strategic services.
  • Explain the pain points you have in your business and ask how they can help you navigate those challenges.  This question will help you identify if you are talking to someone who can really help or if they are more accustomed to providing tax returns and financial statements, unless your pain point is to only have your tax returns prepared.
  • How often to you meet with you clients? If you are a family owned, or closely held business, with revenue between $10 million and $100 million, you need to have a strategy meeting your CPA firm at least on a quarterly basis.
  • Ask who you will be working with at the CPA firm.  Many small, one- or two-man CPA firms, are stretched very thin and are inundated preparing tax returns and doing accounting.  Boutique and local firms are typically more client focused, provide tax returns and accounting, as well as the strategic services that a growth minded family owned or closely held business needs.  Regional firms are typically siloed with tax departments, accounting departments, and consulting departments that don’t necessarily share information with each other. This causes them to mainly just care about there goals versus helping you.
  • Who are your primary customers or clients? You want to make sure that your new CPA firm works with businesses of your size and complexity. Specifically ask about the revenue range that the CPA is accustomed to working with. Make sure that fits with your business and your goals. If your business is generating revenue of $25 million per year, you won’t get the knowledge you need from a firm that is accustomed to working with clients in the $1 million – $5 million range. If you hire a large regional or national CPA firm, you will not get the attention that you deserve because they have much larger clients. At Whittaker we typically work with clients that have revenue between $10 million and $100 million.

What Do they Offer?

Here are several questions that you will want to ask the CPA firm prior to hiring them:

  • What industries does the CPA typically work with? You don’t necessarily need to find a CPA that only works with clients in your industry, but you need a CPA firm that is familiar with your industry from a tax and accounting perspective. For example, if you are in a high-tech business, working with a CPA that primarily works with doctors or in the medical field likely won’t be a good fit.
  • What type of services does the CPA firm regularly provide? Tactical services that a CPA firm provides would be tax compliance/tax returns and some level of accounting.  Strategic services such as tax planning, strategic business advice, merger and acquisition advice, and developing key performance indicators for your business will provide you more value for your investment.  Specifically ask if your new CPA what processes they have built around these types of strategic services. One day you might find yourself needing this type of help.
  • How does the firm bill for their services?  This is an area that the accounting industry has seen change in the last decade. Typically, or historically, CPA firms bill clients by the hour.  Over the last 10-15 years this has been slowly changing and many firms are new providing up-front fixed fee pricing.  Many firms have a hybrid billing arrangement.  In a hybrid arrangement the firm will quote a fixed fee up front and let you know that there are certain items outside of the scope of your services that may be billed based on hourly rates.  In any case, you need to know how you will be paying for the services that are being provided.  We have learned through twenty years of providing up front fixed fees that it results in a better working relationship with our clients.

Bring it all together

Once you have figured out what your needs are them you can start looking for the right firm. This means finding your pain points or problems with your current accounting firm. Now that you have determined your standing and goal you can begin to look. Asking the right questions that pertain to your situation is half of the battle. Making sure the firm works with clients like your business everyday is crucial. If they don’t specialize or at least have some experience in your rea of business it may e a struggle. Overall you want to do your research to truly pick the right fit. This is not an overnight process. If you would like to get in contact with us to see if we might be the right fit then click the link below.