A small business should be selective when choosing an accountant. An accountant can play a critical role in the company’s successes and failures. They can also help the owner to be focused on areas that need attention. Accountancy professionals should assist with corporate strategy, provide advice and help businesses to reduce costs, improve their top line, and mitigate risks.

The first step in finding the right accountant is to design an accurate outline of your company’s financial needs. It is critical to be cognizant of any special fiduciary situation in your business that needs to be addressed by a financial interpreter. It is imperative that your company’s particular situation is factored into the type of accountant that you need.

The next step in the process is to solicit personal recommendations from your family, friends and colleagues about great accountants that they know. You can augment any of their suggestions by researching local accountants in the area.

The final and most important stage of finding the best accountant for your company is the interview process. A recent study by CPAPracticeAdvisor.com suggests that there are several different areas to consider during the interview process:

  • Be honest about your level of financial expertise.  It will make for a much better relationship if you are clear up front about your level of financial understanding and ensure the accountant can meet you where you are.
  • What’s important to you? Set clear expectations of what you’re looking for. Finding the right accountant for you is much simpler if know what you need and then communicate it.
  • Look for value versus compliance. It’s not all about compliance. The right accountant can offer business and tax advice throughout the year, can help you budget for the future, and can help you navigate your way out of a challenging time. When you’re interviewing a potential accountant, make sure you ask what value they bring beyond compliance.
  • Ask for references. Ask the accountant for references from other business clients, and then call them. Ask the references what they like and don’t like about working with the accountant. Share what you are looking for in an accountant to get their reaction on whether or not they think their accountant would be a good fit for you too.
  • Who will your point of contact be at the firm? Be sure that you remain in contact with the accountants. If a more junior person in the firm will be your point of contact, ask how often you will be meeting with the accountant themselves.
  • How do they price their services? Many people prefer an accountant who provides “value pricing” and doesn’t charge you for every minute they are working on your finances. It is important to ask about any flexibility in their fees according to your needs.
  • What technology do they use? There are many advantages that new technology brings to a company. Be sure that your accountant is not stuck on the old ways of doing business. Look for someone progressive that is keeping up with the times.
  • Do they stay current with shifting trends in the market and the accounting profession? A good accountant must be flexible. Find a firm that is constantly educating themselves not just on tax, but in ways that they can bring new ideas to your business as well.