Delegation is a business owner’s best friend. After all, the diverse responsibilities and tasks that come with the title of Business Owner are much too time-consuming to handle by yourself. Successfully delegating those tasks that are especially time-intensive allows you the chance to focus on increasing your business’ bottom line and establishing your place in the market. Since many business owners hate to stare at numbers and spreadsheets all day, they often hire an accountant to take care of their finances. Unfortunately, many business owners will hire any accountant that is within their budget, without really considering the trustworthiness and expertise of that person. But there are 3 major areas that you should address when you are in the process of hiring an accountant.

Quality of Service

The most important thing to consider when hiring an accountant is the quality of their service. This is arguably one of the most important factors in determining whether or not to hire an accountant for your business because it is primarily concerned with communication, the cornerstone of your relationship with your accountant.

Questions to Help You Consider An Accountant’s Quality of Service

Are they transparent and honest regarding their services and results?
Your relationship with your accountant will only be successful if it is built on honesty and transparency. A way that you determine if they will be transparent with you after being hired is to see how upfront they are with you about their fees and services. Do they provide you with clear and comprehensive fee schedule? If they are vague and unclear in their communication before being hired, it will only get worse after they are hired.

What is their approach toward accounting and taxes?
Every accountant has their own approach to finances and taxes and it is in your best interest to clarify that before you hire them. For example, some accountants (hint, the bad ones) will only contact you at tax time to help you gather documents and submit your tax return, disappearing into the ether afterward. However, a good accountant will help you with tax planning, taking steps throughout the year to eliminate audit triggers and decrease your tax liability, if possible. Ask them if they are aggressive or conservative in their methods and see if their answer matches your own approach toward your company’s finances.

Are they accommodating and invested in your business’ success?
Working with your accountant should not be an isolated event that occurs around tax season every year, but rather an ongoing partnership that is dedicated toward your company’s growth and improvement. As you meet with your accountant, take note of how accommodating they are to you, as well as how well they demonstrate an interest in helping your business succeed.

Knowledge & Expertise

In 2017, there were about 1.24 million individuals employed as accountants and auditors within the United States, according to Statista.com. However, not every accountant is equal and will differ in their experience and knowledge. When hiring an accountant, it is best to look into the expertise and experience of your candidate(s).

Questions to Help You Consider An Accountant’s Knowledge & Expertise

How long have they been an accountant?
While established accountants are not necessarily more knowledgeable than a new startup, they will usually have more experience simply because they have worked with more clients.

How do they stay current and informed about industry news?
Although anyone can acquire the necessary education and certifications to become an accountant, what separates average accountants from great accountants is their level of dedication to continuously learning about the financial world. Keeping their eyes on the landscape of the financial world means that they are continually educating themselves – above the mandatory amount of required courses.

Do they have any experience in dealing with the IRS?
If you are hiring an accountant to handle your taxes, as well as your company’s finances, don’t hesitate to ask them about the extent of their experience with the IRS. Typically, an accountant who has dealt with the IRS on multiple occasions will implement preventative measures throughout the year to ensure that you are not the target of an IRS audit in the future.

How do they handle X?
You know your company’s areas of concern best and it can be helpful to ask a potential accountant how they would handle a specific “hypothetical” situation that you are dealing with in your company. What are their best practices in that situation and how do they work through it?

What kind of clients do they have?
Asking your accountant what kind of clients helps you gauge whether or not they will be an asset to your company. If they deal with individuals on a regular basis, it may not be a wise choice to hire them as your company accountant. Similarly, if they deal with businesses and you are hiring them to handle your personal financial matters, you may want to look elsewhere. Ultimately, you want to choose an accountant that is well-versed in the area in which you are hiring them to work.

Security & Privacy Practices

Because October 15th is quickly approaching, the IRS issued yet another warning to taxpayers to be wary of scams and fraud. It also re-emphasized the importance of establishing data security to tax professionals in its Internal Revenue Service and Security Summit in August. Tax season is a prime opportunity for identity thieves to take advantage of naive taxpayers and irresponsible tax accountants. As you narrow down your list of candidates for that accountant position, be sure to consider the reality that they will be handling your sensitive information. Consider the following questions as you meet with your future accountant and save yourself a world of headache.

Questions to Help You Consider An Accountant’s Security & Privacy Practices

How will they exchange sensitive files with you?
An accountant who is concerned about reducing the possibility of a data breach will have established secure methods for exchanging sensitive material with you. Be wary of an accountant that does not use encryption in their emails, an encrypted shared portal, or other secure method (like in-person delivery) when sharing documents with you. A public Wi-Fi or unencrypted email is never secure enough for your tax documents or personal information. A good tax accountant will use a protected network for their site and provide regular security training to all of their staff members.

Who has access to your files?
Phishing campaigns frequently target tax preparers and their assistants because of the high success rate of these attacks. Sloppy management of file access inevitably results in the irreversible corruption of that data. A good accountant will be able to explain exactly who has access to your files at all times. An even better accountant will have a two-factor authentication process in place for gaining access to sensitive material.

How and where will they store your data?
Ask your accountant about their data storage policies and practices, specifically how they secure sensitive files. While they may take every precaution when transferring your data, they must also be aware of the vulnerability of data at rest. Do they use a file cabinet or cloud storage to store their files? If they use offline storage, ask about their backup policies. If they use cloud storage, do they utilize a provider with a zero-knowledge architecture or is it a company with a record of data breaches? Being aware of how your potential accountant treats your data before you actually give it to them will help you avoid hundreds of problems in the future.

Having Trouble Finding A Great Accountant? You Just Haven’t Met Us Yet.

At MBS Accountancy, our goal is to be the best team of tax accountants and financial consultants in the industry. We prioritize excellent communication among our staff and with our clients because we understand that transparency and honesty form the bedrock of successful partnerships. We cut the jargon and keep it simple so you are clear on what’s going on with your business’ taxes and finances. We keep our eyes on the financial world, training and informing all of our staff in the latest accounting methods and tax news. We also employ top-notch security measures to ensure that your data is only accessible to those who absolutely need it to serve your company’s financial needs. We also utilize access management systems and train all of our staff members in the latest security awareness practices to reduce the risk of a data breach. If you’re looking for an accountant that will actively work with you to make your business a success, contact us today and we’ll get started.