Small Business Consulting- choosing the right CPA for you.

This month we are going to discuss a small business consultant’s criteria to select the right CPA for your firm.  Many small businesses have given little or no thought to their CPA.  Often the process is a recommendation from a friend or relative.  The end result at times is a very poor fit for the business needs.  If you have ever wondered if you have the correct CPA, read on.

Let’s take a look at the criteria you should consider as you select a CPA for your business.  Accounting web published an article about the 5 mistakes business owners make when selecting a CPA. (5 Mistakes)

In this article, they mention the following:

  1. Focusing on the wrong qualifications
  2. Starting without criteria or understanding of their needs
  3. Firm that gels with your personality
  4. Picking a firm that does not do financial analysis
  5. Doing it yourself. (DIY)

We would like to add a few other items that need consideration.

  1. Experienced in your industry
    1. As an example, Ed Westerhoff focuses on serving the trucking industry.
    2. This brings added value including insights into the industry and trends.
    3. Manufacturing experience is critical for manufacturers as they have added challenges related to inventory, WIP, R+D credit and more.
  2. Multiple CPAs in the firm.
    1. A PC (professional corporation) lends greater credibility and capacity if you need quick response.
  3. Look for a CPA who makes regular site visits, you want them to know you.

As preparation for this article, I spent some time with Jim Valk a partner at Jansen, Valk, Thompson and Reahm PC.  Jim pointed out some added insights that should be considered.  All too often, clients choose based on price versus value.  As well, they tend to call after major decisions, negating the opportunity to take advantage of the CPA’s experience or knowledge.  While Jim admits that many decisions make good sense, 1 in 6 could have benefited from counsel.  From my perspective, it is clearly an opportunity to interact and build that relationship.  For large corporations there is a CFO on staff.  Here the owner or president would engage constantly.  Why not engage more with your CPA?

A special “thank you” to Jim for his time and thoughts.

SPC Consulting recommends the following approach to selecting a CPA:

  • Give consideration to industry experience.
  • Do not select on price and be sure to budget added monies to increase engagement.
  • Give an edge to firms with more than one CPA preferably a PC.
  • Make sure you like the individual and respect them. You want to value their input.
  • Establish a regular meeting schedule; semi-annually or quarterly.

In closure, I want to say that when it comes to understanding the various issues in business finance and their impact on your tax obligation, you owe it to yourself to leverage all the tools you have.  For more information, give us a call.

Steven Cummings

Managing Partner