Five Questions to Ask Any Accountant…Before You Hire Them

February 03, 2011
Kurt Kofford

Kurt Kofford

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Finding an accountant for your small business can seem like a bit of a chore. Considering that most of us run in the same circles or are members of similar professional groups.  There is also the fact that many new clients have trouble understanding exactly what it is that BiggsKofford can do for them, so it’s no wonder that choosing someone to help you think big picture when it comes to your company’s financial matters can be so difficult.

To make things a bit easier for you, here are five questions you should ask any accountant you’re thinking about hiring:

What are your specialty areas?

As with any other field, most accountants have specialties and areas of expertise. Whether it’s helping to smooth out cash flow, making payroll easier, or dealing with lots of liquid assets, you should find out what your accountant really likes working on, and whether that strength is likely to be important to your business.

Do you have experience with businesses like mine?

Just as important as the first question, an accountant with a similar client base will have an easier time understanding what your needs are, not to mention anticipating the sorts of challenges you’re likely to face. What’s more, accountants who work with the same industry and client types can do a better job of keeping up on news, laws and trends.

Could I speak to two or three of your existing clients?

It’s always a good idea to check a few references before you pick a new accountant. While it’s unlikely that any professional is going to give you the name and phone number of an unhappy client, you can still get a good sense of whether the accountant is one who is willing to go the extra mile, or does just enough to keep clients satisfied.

How long have you been practicing?

While a lack of experience isn’t necessarily a huge deal – after all, we were all new once, you should know from the start if a newer accountant is going to be cutting their teeth with your business’ books and tax planning. Experience is a great teacher, and someone who’s been around the block a few dozen times is going to be a lot less prone to the kinds of simple errors most professionals make early in their careers.

How do you like to work?

This is probably one of the most important, but overlooked, questions you can ask an accountant you’re thinking about working with. That’s because, assuming you are only meeting with men and women who are qualified, competent and professional, what’s really going to be important is whether your personalities and working styles are going to mesh together. No matter what their skills are like, maintaining a good relationship with your accountant requires a certain degree of compatibility.

Of course, these questions are only a starting point; as you get to know a few different accountants and evaluate their strengths and personalities, you’ll probably think of several more questions. Consider using these as a starting point and remember that doing a bit of interviewing now can help you find the person who can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

BiggsKofford has many specialty and industry niches, and we would be glad to see how we can help move you and your company from one success to the next.  If you have questions about our services, please contact Kurt Kofford.

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