We’ve been talking about why you should build your financial team and how to get started. We’ve also introduced you to some team members like your Financial Advisor, so you can build a team that works for all your goals!
Your Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, is an essential part of your financial team for obvious reasons: he or she will be the one who helps you navigate that rabbit warren of the federal tax code when tax season hits! But a CPA can also help you make smart financial decisions throughout the year. That’s why it’s very important to choose this professional with care.
Here are 3 things to look for as you go about choosing the right CPA for you:
1) Willingness to explain things: Listen, you’re not a CPA. We know that. Does your CPA know that? You don’t need to work with someone who is constantly talking down to you, or purposely obscuring their explanations with a lot of fifty-cent words and industry terms you couldn’t hope to understand. When you meet with your CPA, you should have clarity, not confusion.
2) Up-to-date certifications and education: CPAs are required not only to pass a rigorous exam, but also to take part in ongoing training so they can stay up to speed with our federal tax code, which changes as often as a teenage girl going on a date (and, sometimes, it seems, just as arbitrarily.) CPAs can also earn designations for specific accounting tasks and specialties. Make sure your CPA has all the right credentials for your business needs.
3) Risk tolerance: CPAs are people too, and they each have their own interpretations of how to manage the tax code. Some CPAs are conservative, staying by-the-book in every situation. Some CPAs are more aggressive, taking a more flexible view on deductions and write-offs. But if the government takes issue with anything on your tax return, YOU will be the one who gets audited, not your CPA! So make sure you are comfortable with your CPA’s philosophy and that his/her risk tolerance level matches your own.
Your Certified Public Accountant’s Team
One more quick thing. If your CPA has a team of professionals (staff accountants, tax associates, etc.) working with him/her, that is actually a bonus! It is neither realistic nor humanly possible for your CPA to do it ALL, come April 15. Having staff means there’s backup in case of emergency. You’ll want to know that there is a solid team in place, so that your taxes get done and done well, and so that your CPA will be able to respond to all your needs.
Still not sure? Let’s make this easy: here’s how we can help by referring the right type of CPA for you and your business.