Before you complete an important transaction, or wrap up your year-end work, pick up the phone and call your accountant for his or her perspective and advice. Accountants are not mind readers. To serve their clients best, accountants need to be consulted before the client enters into important transactions. Remember, attention to tax as well as economic considerations are all within the sphere of understanding of your CPA. Therefore, be sure to let him or her know what you are contemplating before the transactions is completed. Many mistakes can often be avoided just by having had that conversation with your CPA first. Sometimes, clients learn this lesson the hard way when it comes tax filing time and they learn that something they did during the year is now going to turn out to be an expensive surprise.
Use the financial information your accountant generates for you. All financial statements, tax returns, projections etc should be read and understood by you. If you just toss them into a filing cabinet you are missing an important opportunity to use the information in a way to better run your business. If you don’t understand the reports or tax returns, then by all means ask your CPA to explain them to you in language you can understand. If your accountant is unwilling to take the time to do this, then, in all honesty, you really need to look for another CPA who will.
Help your accountant to better help you by making sure he or she really understands your business. By default, CPA’s in public practice will normally have an understanding of many different types of businesses and industries just by the fact that they work with so many different clients. However, no CPA will know everything about everything, but, you will most often find them eager to learn. Therefore, provide your accountant with copies of newsletters in your industry, trade journal articles, or other pertinent information about your company. The more you CPA knows about your business, the better positioned he or she will be in to help you when you need his or her advice.
Hold your accountant accountable. You should not be willing to accept mediocre service. If you feel that the accountant is not meeting your needs in some area, then you need to let them know. He or she will probably be happy to accommodate you. Again, open and honest communication with your accountant is important.
Especially for a small business owner who probably does not have any internal accounting staff or expertise, you should think of your CPA as your CFO or controller for your business who is there for you when you need them. Whether it’s conducting a break-even analysis for a new product line or long term strategic planning for your business, ask for your CPA’s help.
I always encourage my clients to call me with their questions, or just send me a quick email, that is often a time efficient means to get an answer to your questions especially if I am not in the office when your call, or if you have questions after normal business hours.
Remember, your accountant can be your most trusted, objective, grounded in sound logic professional. So, avail yourself of all the benefits of tapping into that wealth of financial knowledge.
How To Get the Most Value from the Services of Your CPA
Once you have selected the accounting professional you will work with, the next issue is how do you get the most value from the services of your CPA? Getting the best value in professional services is very important to all of us. Here are a few ideas to help you achieve that:
Be ready when the CPA arrives at your place of business, or you meet with him/her at their office. This means, make sure you have all records, ledgers etc. ready and organized. Searching for information while they are there, or showing up for an appointment only to discover that you left important information back at your office is wasteful of your time as well as your CPA's.
Give your CPA accurate information the first time. Doing something over because the information was incorrect or incomplete at the start is a waste of time and effort. Plus, it will needlessly run up your accounting fees.
Your accountant can’t do his or her job if you don’t give them the full truth. You should feel completely at ease sharing any confidential financial information. If you can’t, then, perhaps you really need to consider changing accountants