3 Tips for Evaluating Accounting Firm Options

In the third instalment of our Q&A series with our Co-Founder Susan Richards, FCPA, FCMA, we asked her about what companies should look for when deciding on what accounting firm to use.

What are 3 tips you would give to a company evaluating accounting firm options? 

Having strong professional advisors is key factor to building a better performing business.  Most business owners realize early on that they need a good lawyer and a good accountant but really don’t have a good sense of what they should be looking for. 

Here are 3 tips on what to consider when selecting your public Accounting firm.  

1.  Your Accounting firm should have a portfolio of clients that are similar to yours. They should clearly understand your operational/business model and your industry.  When they have a portfolio of similar clients they can be more effective with advice and more efficient in performing your tax and assurance work (audits).  If you are a SaaS company, make sure you are choosing an accountant who can demonstrate success with other SaaS companies that they are supporting (SaaS is a niche).

2.  Select a firm that has experience with any of your business complexities. 

If you are now ready to expand to the US, you’ll want to ensure your accounting firm has both a breadth and depth of experience dealing in the US.  Understanding when you need to register for sales tax in a particular state is not intuitive and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the IRS. Not sure how to judge their experience?  Ask them how the “Wayfair Decision” has been impacting their clients and what changes they have advised their clients on accordingly.  It’s a fascinating case that is impacting innovative businesses. Any Canadian exporter should ensure their accountant is regularly considering it’s impact on their clients.

3.  Personality fit. 

Okay, I’m not suggesting you want to go with a Miss Congeniality approach here, and I’m not suggesting you need to be hoping your accountant will be your new BFF, but you should not have to comprise enjoyment for expertise.  You can have it all.  Most CPAs are pretty smart, so don’t settle for a bad personality fit when there are plenty of fish (or smart CPAs) in the sea.  Your accountant should not be scolding you ever for anything.  It’s not their role and if you are not looking forward to your next meeting with your accountant I’d suggest it is time to consider a new one.  You want to feel comfortable explaining all your business plans, successes and failures. You need to be very transparent and for that strong foundation to be beneficial you have to like the person you are dealing with.  

Bonus tip: 

Accountants have relationships with many businesses and thus have the potential to provide great business development benefits. Think about which firms are servicing your target market and give them a call to see what potential there may be to get some introductions.

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