With the fiscal year coming to a close, more enterprises are demanding audit and accounting services from cpa firms. As a small business franchise, one may be tasked with outsourcing these services. So what should be your checklist when choosing a firm that will suit your needs? Here is a guideline on what you should consider:
Certifications and Experience
First is the certification and the experience. Choose a firm that has been certified and licensed by the relevant authorities, and that has qualified staff. In case you are hiring a firm or an individual practitioner, it is vital to check for proper documentation first. Inquire for their Certificate of Public Accountant (CPA) or Certificate of Management Accountant (CMA) certifications. If the individual has an undergraduate degree in finance or accounting alongside a good working experience would be a bonus.
You should be clear on the type of service you require. Is it book-keeping, financial planning, tax return, or audits? This will play a significant role in deciding which accounting firm to consult. It will also aid in comparing the cost offered by different firms.
Fees – What’s included and Who?
The cost should not overburden the entrepreneur. It should be reasonable and within the budget. Different accounting firms charge different rates, some offer packages at a fixed or hourly rate.
Where some business owners have wound up with unforeseen costs are when a tax return or offer in compromise is reviewed by multiple people within the firm. While this due diligence is admirable, it can also result in appearing as though you’re paying twice for the same work.
Make a comparison of the quoted fee with what you had planned for your budget. Make a reasonable judgment or opt for a cheaper alternative. However, do not compromise on the quality of work to be done based on cost. There should be a balance between cost and quality.
Some accounting firms specialize in offering specific services such as auditing, financial analysis, strategic business management plans, or taxation. Choose a firm that specializes in the services you need or — and most preferably — is an expert in your industry.
Always ask fellow business owners about their CPA firms for first-hand accounts. If all else fails, online reviews (Yelp and Google) can help validate your feelings on a firm you’ve met with. See if others had a similar impression (positive or negative).
How frequently do you require accounting services per year? Is it annually, quarterly, or every month? At the very least, an annual assessment is recommended. Moreover, what’s the size of the firm? If you need help tomorrow, a larger firm may not have the time for a smaller business, but smaller CPA firms typically treat each client with greater consideration.
Business Advice and Goal Setting
Setting goals for the next financial year should be important. Your firm should advise you on how to maintain proper bookkeeping, compile financial records, and provide feedback from the analysis they have done.
Typically, if you’re a startup, there’s a learning curve to accounting which is all the more reason to outsource a firm. Let’s face it, you can grow your business or maintain it, but rarely can you successfully do both. Get the financial guidance you need to be successful.