What to Ask an Accountant

If you have a gut feeling that your accountant may not actually be the *right* accountant for you and your business, you are not alone.


We tend to hire the closest accountant in our neighborhood or in our circle of influence: our uncle, our parents' guy, the guy down the street...


Problem is that PROXIMITY does not equal QUALITY. The amount of time you spend invested in getting to know your accountant and their compatibility with you, the more you will get back in return.


You have an entire country of accountants to choose from and you have every right to interview them.


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It is especially important to express your needs up front because accountants and their clients often have issues with communicating expectations and therefore communicating things that affect those expectations. Accountants will often assume you will reach out if you need something, while you assume they will call you and both of you are unhappy.


Also, the firm partner who meets with you will likely not be the actual person working on your account. Often, the partner passes off your file to a staff or manager and checks in periodically with them. Even f you click with the partner, you will not likely deal with them much, depending on the size of the firm.


Here are some of the questions you should be asking an accountant to avoid these types of issues:


COMMUNICATION

  • What is your preferred method of communication?

  • How often should I expect to hear from you / how often would you like me to check in?

  • By when will you need my documents?


BILLING

  • Are your fees billed hourly?

  • Do your fees include tax planning or representation services?

  • Do you offer referral bonuses?


SOCIAL PROOF

  • How would your clients describe you?

  • Describe a scenario where you helped a business owner similar to me save money in taxes.

  • How do you handle a scenario where a mistake is made?


QUALIFICATIONS

  • Will you be the one working on my account? If not, what are the qualifications of the person who is? Can I meet with them?

  • How will you keep my personal information secure? Where will my documents be stored?

  • How do you stay updated on new laws, regulations, trends and cases?


Of course, do not interrogate them or give the impression you doubt their skills or credentials. Make it known that you highly value them as a professional and want to make sure a business relationship makes sense for both parties.


I have turned down clients who are not a good fit and I expect clients to turn down my services if they believe I am not a good fit. Much like romantic relationships, you need to take time to get to know someone to see if you click.


What other questions would you ask? Comment below!