Eight Features of a Great Accountant
By David Powelson
As an experienced general manager what I look for in my accountant has evolved over many years. I have learned that oftentimes the right accountant knows more than I do and that this knowledge can make a vast beneficial impact on the performance of the business.
I take for granted that a good accountant should at a minimum be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA standing should be verified and is the best evidence you can get that an accountant knows debits from credits and has a reasonable mastery of:
Financial Control Issues
Taxes and Regulations
A CPA is also a credential that speaks to ethical values and a commitment to the public interest.
Good CPAs are easy to find, but if you're really serious about building a great business it's worth the extra effort to find a great CPA. Great CPA's all have the following qualities:
Have a wealth of business experience. Experience with other businesses in your sector is even better.
Think strategically about your business options. They should offer suggestions on how to grow your business next year and not just compile reports from last year.
Help you execute a tax plan that legitimately allows you to keep more of what you earn. This extends past the taxes that the business pays and includes the income taxes paid by the investors and principals.
Are candid and direct in their conversations and communications. It is easy to find an accountant to meekly agree with your decisions but you want someone to tell you when they think you are heading down the wrong road and why.
Help you protect your business from embezzlement, fraud, and dishonest employees through good financial controls and procedures. They should also help you implement internal procedures to more quickly detect any errors or omissions.
Provide an objective perspective about your business performance. Your sales manager will overestimate sales and the operations manager always fails to add in one-time expenses so you need a clear and accurate picture to make informed decisions.
Save you money and increase your profit by helping you identify "best" practices. This is where their experience gives them actionable insight into the business.
Be involved in the business community. They should have contacts that can help you grow your business and form strategic alliances.
A face-to-face interview provides the opportunity to know if there's a "right fit" for your business. In addition to all of the above, the chemistry between your personalities needs to match. And don't get lazy and fail to check their references. He or she should have a history of working with successful companies. It is reasonable to think the accountant had a part in that success.
So how do I find my accountants? A referral is a good place to start but I have never run into someone who didn't describe his or her accountant as "great." Along with interviewing the referral candidates you should perform an outside search. Since changing accountants has a high level of pain, it makes sense to take your time and do it right the first time.
About the Author
To find a great accountants in your area visit the Accounting Aisle.
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