An accountant has access to personal information and to large amounts of money. As result, it is important that you hire the most appropriate and honest accountant that you can to handle your businesses day to day financial tasks. In order to accomplish that, you will need to ask a series of questions and it is important to check on the information you are provided. You are handing over access to your companies’ assets to this person and hoping that they will do what they agreed to do, therefore trust is crucial.
Are you properly licensed?
It is important that the accountant you work with have the appropriate licenses to perform their expected duties. The laws that pertain to that licensing will vary by state, but whatever licenses they have need to be valid in your area. Ideally, any license should have been in good standing from its initial issuance, and any other situation could be a red flag. Asking this question is a good first step.
How long have you been with your current employer?
An accountant that has held the same job with the same company for a long time is likely to have the necessary experience to help your company. That is not to say that a new graduate would not have the same skills, but in that case the amount of time that the firm has been in existence could come under consideration. Regardless, it is often a better idea to use a trusted firm or accountant than a less experienced one. Asking someone about their tenure with a company is expected and simple.
What services can you provide and what are the costs?
Learning what services are offered is obviously a necessary step to reconciling your needs with their abilities. This is an opportunity to discuss specific situations and expectations. As an minimum there should be a familiarity with basic corporate tax software. Obviously, if they cannot provide the services you need for an acceptable price and within the necessary time-period, it’s better to know as soon as possible.
Can you provide recommendations?
Just as you would with any other person you’re hiring, it’s a good idea to get references from satisfied customers. A company or individual that has been in existence for any time at all should have happy clients. If not, this could be another red flag unless there is a reasonable explanation.
Have you worked with similar companies in the past?
Experience, as mentioned above, is necessary, but the size and needs of the companies in question is equally important. A company with thousands of employees will need considerably more attention than a mom-and-pop store will. Clarifying your expectations and needs now is the only way to be sure that you made the best choice.
Regardless of the size of your company, asking the right questions at the right time is vital to its financial future. Verifying those answers is an equally important part of that process. Time and attention to detail now could you save time, money and frustration in the long run.
About the Author: Pa Berlinger is a professional writer with more than 7 years experience in the accounting industry. He stresses the importance of using finance staffing agencies, like Accounting Principals, to find professional accounting help if you are not familiar enough with the industry to make a judgment on your own.