7 Tips For Finding The Right CPA Firm For Your Business
While strategically partnering with a CPA firm is advantageous for businesses of all sizes, choosing the right accountant can be an arduous task. You are more likely to be successful if you understand what to look for. Here are 7 tips for researching, selecting, and vetting a CPA firm that will address your business’s unique needs.
Understanding Value is More Important Than Price
The right CPA firm for your business is the firm that provides the most value. The initial quote may sound affordable , but the dollars spent don’t necessarily translate to value. For example, if you find an accountant for under $1,000, chances are they will only be filing your taxes. However, a strategic and experienced CPA can do far more for your organization than simply file forms.
If you focus on your company’s goals and ask the right questions, you can determine whether or not a CPA can help you get there. Directly ask each firm, “how will a strategic partnership with you benefit my business?” From banking relationships to financing to retirement planning, a good accounting firm can offer practical solutions that support your growth. Think of the CPA not as a line item, but as an investment that can provide a major return if chosen wisely.
Speak to Adjacent Businesses in Your Industry to Get Referrals
Each industry sector is different and has its own needs. Specific laws and regulations vary from one business sector to another. To find CPA firms that have succeeded in your space, seek recommendations from adjacent companies who have used accountants familiar with your type of business. A trusted referral to an accountant with first-hand experience in your industry can save you time and money when filing your taxes, setting up your payroll, or handling expenses in your daily operations.
Find Someone Who Cares to Learn About You and Your Business
You can’t have a lasting relationship with a CPA firm if you don’t understand each other. Communication is an essential component of an ongoing business relationship. Find a CPA firm that treats you like a person, not a number. There are excellent accountants available who make it a priority to know their clients as people, not just revenue sources. Choose a firm whose culture closely resembles your personality and style.
Consider M&A Potential
Finding out your mom-and-pop accounting firm just turned into a larger company can lead to big problems. When a larger business takes over a small one, communication may become less personal and less frequent.
While it’s difficult to know whether or not a change in ownership is looming, you can discuss the possibility in the discovery process. An honest conversation can give you a glimpse into what the future may look like.
Working with a larger firm may save you money in specific industries like real estate, but smaller companies specialize in particular sectors, giving you a more personalized experience. Knowing if the small business you hire will stay small can be important when planning long-term business needs.
Ask How They Approach PTET
Pass-through entity tax (PTET) is an optional state tax you will want to discuss with your accountant. Certain pass through entities can benefit from deducting local taxes when filing their federal tax return. Presently the SALT cap limits that to $10,000 until 2026.
Because SALT negatively impacts small business owners, PTET is designed to offset some of the tax burdens. As a result, businesses can use this program and get a tax break.
There are rules on who can use it, and it may only benefit some businesses, so you need to do your homework. Discuss PTET with your CPA firm to see how they navigate this with their current clients. A good accountant should be able to explain the intricacies of PTET and how it can benefit you and your business, as well as be able to help you implement a PTET program should you choose.
Use the Right Tools in Your Research
Now that you know what your business needs from an accountant, use the best tools available to find your optimal resource.
CPAverify is one of our favorite tools for vetting businesses in the accounting industry. The database is the first of its kind, listing all accredited accountants and whether or not they’re up to date with their licenses. Once you’ve found a company you want to work with, always double-check they have the proper credentials before moving forward.
Review sites such as Clutch are a useful way to learn how businesses similar to yours rate their experience working with each firm. But Glassdoor which asks employees to rate their experience working at the firm may be a more helpful review site to consider. Businesses with happy employees and strong cultures tend to be good partners in professional services.
Go Outside the CPA Firm to Get References
It may be tempting to rely on the CPA firm to give you information on their experience and reputation, but it’s also biased. Do your own research. Contact people who have worked with the firm to gain a more accurate understanding of their satisfaction.
Talking to a few former or existing clients will give you a better idea of the firm’s strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to connect with multiple clients to seek honest assessments of the working relationship. Each experience is different, but together they will provide valuable insights into how the firm handles their engagements. Once you have done your due diligence, carefully evaluate the information you receive to determine if the relationship these clients have experienced is the type of relationship you desire.
Choosing a CPA firm that provides value for your business is an important step in setting up your financial future. Taking shortcuts to find the cheapest option can cost you long-term with missed opportunities and mistakes.
When building a relationship with a prospective CPA firm, understand that value is more important than cost. Before you sign up with a firm, use tools like CPAverify to carefully vet their credentials. Speak with adjacent businesses about their experiences with the firm and do your own research. Be sure to learn the firm’s size and scope goals. And don’t discount the importance of working with an accountant who wants to get to know you and your business.
Using these tools and tips, you should be able to find a CPA firm with whom you can have a long and successful relationship.