Accountants are professionals in the finance and tax industry. They can help provide you or your business advanced insights or solutions to nearly any financial situation. Their value is endless, but finding an accountant you can trust and rely on is a crucial first step in the selection process. Because taxes and finances can make or break you, you want to select the most qualified and trustworthy accountant possible.
Find Someone You Trust
The first step in choosing an accountant to work with is finding someone you trust to give you the best financial advice, solutions, and confidentiality. When researching your accountant options it is important to consider:
- Confidentiality: Because accountants have access to all of your personal and business information (if applicable), you want to ensure the accountant you choose will have the utmost confidentiality and security. One way to do this is by ensuring they are using the latest technology available to prevent hackers from breaching their systems. Although accounting is going digital, you also may want to investigate their filing process to confirm any hard copies of papers are stored securely and safely at the end of each business day. One of example of this can be through a locked file cabinet.
- Avoid Scams: Unfortunately, much like any other industry, there are scam artists posing as accountants. You may find yourself paying an upfront fee to have your taxes prepared or reviewed and once you give the “accountant” your money and personal information, they disappear. If someone is charging an unbelievable rate or guaranteeing a minimum refund back to you, perhaps it is too good to be true. That is why it’s important to research potential accountants and even have an in person consultation to verify their credibility and legitimacy.
- Confirm Their PTIN: A Preparer Tax Identification Number is one way to ensure legitimacy. This number is provided by the IRS for tax preparers and should be entered on your tax return. Before signing any completed return, verify that the accountant has signed and filled in their PTIN information.
What Qualities to Consider When Choosing an Accountant
Once you find a variety of accountants you can trust, you will then want to look into their other qualities to see if their process and values aline with what you are looking for.
- Experience: If you are looking into hiring a CPA or an accountant, you will want to consider their experience. How many years do they have in the business? What kind of experience do they have with your specific situation? For example, a small business owner, a freelance worker, or a house flipper are all unique situations that require a knowledgeable accountant to help you understand your financial situation and prepare you for taxes.
- Chemistry: Meet with your potential accountant and ensure you have good chemistry. This is someone you will usually have a long term business relationship with so having an accountant that you have good rapport with is crucial. You want to make sure your needs are being heard and met and that the accountant is showing that they value you and your situation.
- Tech Savvy: As technology continues to dominate in the business world, you may want to consider hiring an accountant that is up to date on all of the tech trends. Determining your tech needs and what you are looking for in an accountant ultimately be up to you.
- Cloud Services: Cloud services allow you to access an online portal anywhere, anytime. And same for your accountant. This is a great way to view or upload documents on an internet based platform. Cloud platforms are also highly secure!
- Going Digital: Using spreadsheets and accounting programs on the computer rather than manual processing can help to eliminate errors. Filing data digitally rather than manually also increases efficiency, security, and accuracy
- Reliability: Consider how easy it is to reach your accountant and their preferred route of communicating when making your decision to make sure this aligns with your preferences. For example, can you email or call your accountant directly? Do they guarantee to get back to you the same day? Do you have to speak with an assistant prior to your accountant getting back to you? Also consider how far out they are booked for in person or virtual meetings. If you don’t mind waiting a week or two for meetings then it may not be an issue, however if you have urgent needs you may need an accountant with more availability.
Where to Find an Accountant
Now that you have an understanding of what you should consider when choosing an accountant, the question is, where do you find one that is qualified, honest, reliable and checks all of your boxes?
- Online Research: Review the accountants website where you can find their values, mission statement, and other standard information about their business. You can also use third party websites such as search engines or social media to view reviews and real client feedback.
- Word of Mouth: Word of mouth is a great way to get referrals from people you already trust. You can ask friends, social media, family, or even your attorney for a trusted accountant referral.
- Meet in Person: Schedule a consultation with potential candidates and meet with multiple accountants. You can bring questions with you, similar to an interview process, and determine the best accountant for your specific needs and situation.
Having an accountant will make your life easy! However, finding a quality accountant that you can trust fully is the difficultly. What you look for in an accountant is entirely up to you. Doing the proper research will ensure you find yourself a highly qualified and trusted accountant for all of your financial needs.