How to choose a CPA

By Lydia Giffin

Choosing a CPA is akin to choosing your doctor. A good relationship with your doctor will absolutely have a positive impact on your physical health. The same goes for your relationship with your CPA and the financial health of your company. It seems like an easy thing to pick a CPA but there are some things you should know to aid making an informed decision. I have seen so many companies that hired a CPA without doing their homework, and they ended up not getting the support they needed to make good decisions about their business’s financial health. Sometimes this leads to serious complications within the business that will take time, money, and effort to correct.

I have listed below several things to be aware of during the hiring process so that you end up with a CPA who fits your company culture as well as one who has the knowledge base that best suits the type of business you have, especially if you are a government contractor.

Red flags to watch for when hiring a CPA:

They take forever to answer emails and calls

    • It only takes a minute to respond to an email or phone call. Everyone gets busy and cannot respond right away but I would expect a response within 24 hours, even if it is just to let you know they are aware of your inquiry and will get back to you as soon as possible

You cannot understand what they are telling you

    • Communication is everything. They should be able to explain in lay terms so that you understand what is taking place and how it will be managed within your company.

They recommend you meet once per year

    • Communication – communication – communication! I recommend you meet with your CPA quarterly. Reviewing your financials quarterly will allow you to identify any potential issues before it is too late. A good CPA will be able to advise you on quarterly taxes owed; cashflow issues that could negatively impact your business and provide a solution before it becomes a problem.

Once you have identified a CPA that you are comfortable with you will still need to make sure they are following through with everything you have discussed with them. Do not make the mistake of trusting without verifying. Many times, the CPA you have hired is not the individual handling your account. Make sure you are reviewing your financial statements monthly. By doing this you will be able to notice any issues that need to be addressed with your CPA. At the end of the day, you are responsible for always having a handle on your financial picture. Do not assume they are doing the job always TRUST BUT VERIFY!