A lot of folks ask about what to look for in an accountant. It's kind of like dating. It really depends on what matters to you and what your business love language is. Maybe it's prompt responses or maybe it's face to face time.
No matter your style of communication and interaction, it is very important to have an accountant that exhibits qualities of integrity, honesty and patience. You are interviewing them for a role as a trusted advisor for your business and you should place emphasis on that. Do not just settle for the family friend or the firm down the street. Convenience should not be your primary decision making factor when it comes to finding someone to share you SSN and bank account number with.
As a result, I created a list of questions that I think will help identify a great match for you as a business owner when looking for an accountant:
What is your preferred method of communication if I have questions?
In what ways will you help me save money in taxes?
How many other businesses do you serve in my industry or income level?
Will you be the one working on my account?
Will you be providing any tax planning or representation services?
Do you provide any reminders for upcoming deadlines?
How do you stay updated on new tax legislation and cases?
How would your clients describe you?
Will I be billed based on hours?
Do you offer any referral discounts or benefits?
By when do you need my documentation?
How will you keep my personal information secure?
You may also consider the open-ended story approach by saying "Tell me about..."
a client you helped
a time when you made a mistake and how it was handled
how you handle difficult clients
a difficult conversation you had to have with a client
a time when you had to advocate for your client
your favorite clients
These will usually get deeper to the root of their approach and enable you to predict how the relationship will be. These are great if you are not tight on time.
If your accountant is dismissive or hesitant to answer these questions, this is usually telling. If they are in a rush to get you in and out before you pay, think about whether you will be given any priority after you are already paid up. They should be wanting to put their best foot forward to win your business.