5 Considerations for Finding the Right CPA
by Denise Asker, Director of Marketing and Practice Growth
Clayton & McKervey Posted 01/07/2020
Whether you are handling business or personal finances, having a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as your advocate is priceless. The right CPA can help you and your business move toward financial success and uncover areas of financial improvement. Here are the top 5 considerations when finding the right CPA for you and your business.
Technical Expertise – The right CPA should be a seasoned professional with experience in providing accounting services to your type of business and industry. In addition, they should have the technical expertise and knowledge to help you grow. The right CPA is not only someone who can meet your current needs, but also meet the need as the business expands. Considering the cost and resources it takes to transition from one CPA to another, it is in the best interest of business owners to find a CPA that can scale with you.
Important: If you or your business deals with inter-state or international complexities, make sure your CPA can support or has the network to support, your accounting needs worldwide. If you are just expanding into the US, check out the 5 Considerations for Finding the Right International CPA.
Reputation & Quality of Service – Other than the level of attention and technical expertise provided by your CPA, be sure to educate yourself on the quality of the firm’s work and reputation. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Is your data secure? Does the firm use programs and processes that ensure information security?
- Is the CPA peer-reviewed, and did they receive a clean report? You can ask to view the most recent Peer Review Report. If you are a public company, ask to view the most recent PCAOB Firm Inspection Report.
- Can the firm be critical and neutral when providing services, while at the same time remain an advocate for you and help you meet your goals?
How much attention you will receive from your CPA will vary from firm to firm. It is important to know what level of attention you will need for your business. Some questions consider prior to hiring a CPA are:
- Will the CPA provide me tailored and holistic financial and business solutions?
- Will the CPA be able to meet my timing needs?
- How often do I have access to talk with my CPA?
- Will I have the opportunity to meet face to face with my CPA?
Some CPAs will do little more than the services they were hired to provide; however, the best CPA will be more proactive by keeping a pulse of new methodologies, trends and help in supporting you and your business as a trusted financial and business growth advisor.
Professional service fees are often one of the biggest deciding factors in choosing a CPA. There are three common types of pricing practices for CPA service: fixed-fee pricing, rate-based pricing, and monthly retainer fees.
Compliance services, for example, are usually fixed fee. This means that the CPA will charge a set amount for the project. By contrast, rate-based pricing is often the case for consulting services. These services will be charged based on the number of hours worked and who worked on the job. Monthly retainer fees are for on-going business consulting or bundled services. Note that there may be additional fees if work would need to be done outside of the scope of the particular project. Be sure to clarify what is and is not within the scope of services.
While pricing is certainly important, it is critical to make a decision based on the factors most important to the business relationship.
Existing relationships & network
The right CPA for you and your business should bring synergies with your current service providers, such as your lawyer, banker or insurance provider. The relationship and increased communication between your service team will ensure that your business receives a holistic and custom approach to the issues most impacting the bottom line.
Clayton & McKervey is dedicated to serving closely-held growth-driven businesses. We are not right for every business but may be right for you! Let us know if we can help in your search for a proactive business advocate. To learn more, visit claytonmckervey.com.