Business owners want their businesses to expand and make more revenue. It won't be possible if they don't have a certified public accountant (CPA) to help manage their finances.
With the rise in the number of CPAs globally, choosing the best and most reliable can be complex. When choosing the best CPA near me, you have two choices: hire an in-house accountant or outsource your accounting to an accounting firm.
Every CPA has their skills and areas of specialty, whether they work for big firms or freelancing. Therefore, you must consider your accounting needs and budget before deciding which CPA to hire. This article explains the factors to consider when choosing a CPA near you and the necessary tips to make the right choice.
Why Your Business Needs More Than a Bookkeeper
Many small business owners in the United States don't know the roles of a bookkeeper and a CPA. Therefore, we will explore the functions of a bookkeeper and an accountant.
Bookkeepers record the financial transactions of an organization systematically in the appropriate books using accounting software.
Accountants are financial professionals who examine the books of bookkeepers to prepare financial reports, such as cash flow and income statements, and balance sheets to enable the company to make a decision.
A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is an accountant who has passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and met additional education and experience requirements to be licensed by a state board of accountancy. CPAs are licensed to offer services such as tax filing, accounting, auditing, and consulting to individuals and businesses.
What to Look for in a CPA
It's one thing to hire a CPA for your business, it's another thing to hire a qualified one. Who doesn't want the best? Many business owners are not good at recruitment. Hence, they contract a recruitment firm to help them through the process.
If you want to hire a good CPA in the United States, there are some factors you must consider. They include:
1. Credentials and experience
Before hiring a CPA, ensure they have a valid practicing license in the state. You can verify their credentials through the state accountancy board. Furthermore, you will not want to hire an inexperienced accountant. Therefore, confirm that they have the required experience to help your business needs.
For instance, if you have issues relating to your personal or business tax, ensure that the CPA has a strong knowledge of taxes in your state. Also, ask for the previous clients he has worked for, and confirm that he is good with his job.
The reputation of the CPA you want to hire is crucial. One way to know the character of your potential accountant is to get testimonials and reviews from their previous clients. Check their professional records for any complaints or disciplinary actions against them. Your business is important to you, and you will not want to destroy what took you years to build by hiring an incompetent CPA.
3. Services offered
There are different accounting services for small businesses. They include; accounting services, bookkeeping, tax services, payroll, auditing, consulting, etc. Find an expert who offers the services that you need. For instance, if you need professional help regarding payroll, find a CPA who provides payroll services. Also, if you need help regarding your taxes, a tax CPA will be a perfect fit. It will help your business grow, increase revenue, and allow you to explore other business options while your CPA handles the accounting aspect.
4. Communication and responsiveness
Effective communication is crucial in every business. When looking for a CPA near me, find someone easy to reach and responsive to inquiries. You need to be able to get through your CPA whenever you have issues relating to your business. They should also be professional enough to respond to you promptly.
Furthermore, your CPA should use more than one medium of communication. If you can't reach them through email, they should be available via phone or Whatsapp. Don't wait until things become worse. Ensure your accountant is responsive in communication.
5. Fees and pricing
For small businesses, pricing is one important factor when hiring a CPA near me. If the accountant is a full-time staff, you are expected to pay monthly, depending on the arrangement. If you hire a CPA on a contract basis, they charge you per hour or contract, depending on the agreement.
6. Industry knowledge
A good CPA should have experience and knowledge in their field of expertise. For instance, if you work in an industry such as real estate, look for an experienced real estate CPA near me. The same thing applies to health and other sectors. Hiring a CPA with industry knowledge is crucial because they know all the industry's accounting requirements and regulations.
What skills should a CPA have?
Like every professional, you need some essential skills to be successful in your industry. Accounting professionals are not left out. To succeed in this role, CPAs should have technical and soft skills. These skills include:
1. Technical accounting knowledge
A CPA must know the current rules and standards and have a firm grasp of accounting principles. They must know about accounting procedures, tax regulations, and auditing standards. Furthermore, they need this knowledge to advise customers or stakeholders and to give accurate financial information.
2. Analytical skills
It should be possible for CPAs to examine and evaluate financial data to spot trends, patterns, and abnormalities. They ought to be able to use this information to make wise decisions or provide clients recommendations. Furthermore, they must be able to recognize risks or problems and create plans to lessen them.
3. Attention to detail
Accounting is mainly about financial data. CPAs must be careful since they are working with financial data. They must ensure accurate financial statements and tax returns. Understand that a minor error during tax filing and financial statements preparation can lead to penalties, causing damages to your company's reputation.
4. Communication skills
Since accounting is the systematic process of recording, arranging, classifying, and communicating financial information to interested parties, a CPA must be able to communicate complex financial information to stakeholders. They must be able to clearly and concisely convey financial information and adjust their communication approach to suit their target audience. Also, they must learn to listen intently to comprehend the requirements and problems of clients or stakeholders.
5. Time management
Time is money. The ability to manage our time makes us unique. As a CPA, you must learn to manage your time to meet deadlines. Timeliness is one of the qualities of good accounting information. Since this information is for decision-making, it must come as early as possible. Furthermore, They must be able to assign duties as necessary and set priorities for work. Meeting customer expectations and upholding high standards need effective time management.
6. Problem-solving skills
A CPA should have good problem-solving skills to recognize financial problems and create workable solutions. They should be capable of weighing many options and reaching wise judgments based on the information at hand, and communicating their recommendations to stakeholders and clients.
7. Ethical standards
Every profession has its ethics which members must strictly adhere to. There are ethical standards in the accounting profession. Therefore, CPAs must adhere to these high ethical standards to maintain professional integrity. They must avoid conflicts of interest and act in the best interests of their clients. Additionally, they must act honestly according to all applicable laws and regulations.
8. Computer literacy
The world is changing. Employees without digital skills risk losing their jobs. The computer has made jobs easy for employees. If you are not computer literate, you are missing out and can be replaced anytime. As a CPA, you must be proficient with accounting software and other tools to perform your tasks effectively. Furthermore, learn to use financial modeling software and data analysis tools to provide insight to your organization.
9. Interpersonal skills
These skills are necessary for interacting with people within and outside your organization. Good CPAs must have strong interpersonal skills to work with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. They should be able to build strong relationships and maintain effective communication. Furthermore, they should be capable of working in different teams and be sensitive to cultural and religious differences.
10. Leadership skills
This skill is crucial for every industry. In accounting, CPAs must have leadership skills to manage teams effectively and provide guidance to junior colleagues. Furthermore, they should be able to motivate and inspire others. Therefore, helping constructive feedback improves their professional performance and skills. CPAs should lead by example and set high standards for themselves and others.
There are several decisions that you must make to guarantee your financial success. Hiring the best CPA near me for small businesses is one of them, if not the most important. Therefore, you must consider the communication skills, technical expertise, and professional ethics of the CPA before deciding on hiring one. Furthermore, consider their experience in working with clients in your industry.
To find a CPA near you who meets these criteria, you should do online research and ask for recommendations from trusted friends in your industry. Furthermore, ensure that the accountant has a good CPA insurance.
You can also get referrals from recruitment agencies and professional organizations. As soon as you have a shortlist of the candidates who meet the requirements, you can schedule interviews to discuss your personal and business needs.
Eventually, the right CPA can give you peace and help you achieve your financial goals. Hence, don't rush. Take your time to hire the best accountant for your business and build a good professional relationship.