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How to choose a CPA Firm

Regardless of whether you’re a start-up or a thriving enterprise, having a CPA or business advisor can pay huge dividends.  Finding a CPA Firm isn’t hard, finding a great one can be. Here are a few considerations when choosing a CPA Firm.

Do You Need a CPA Firm for Your Business?

The first decision you must make is whether your company needs a CPA Firm. The short answer is, yes. CPAs offer businesses several strategic advantages.

CPAs are More than Accountants.

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant.  All CPAs are accountants but not every accountant is a CPA. To become a CPA, one must obtain a state-issued license. To earn this license, an accountant must pass a rigorous national exam that covers current federal and state taxation, business laws, ethics, and other relevant areas for accounting standards and best practices. Additionally, CPAs must maintain their licenses through continuing education. These requirements are not needed to enter the accounting profession, they are only mandatory for CPAs.

CPAs can be very cost-effective.

One of the reasons many businesses avoid hiring a CPA Firm is that they fear the expense. However, smart business owners will tell you, the best way to grow your business is to focus on your core competencies and find external partners to execute the business processes with which you’re inefficient or unskilled at.

This concept is important for understanding why CPAs are valuable to your business. It is much more cost-effective for you to focus on growing your business and improving your operation processes than to try and navigate the convoluted and complex world of taxation and financial accounting.

CPA Firms are versatile.

Many CPAs firms like Hemphill Wright & Associates, Inc, offer a wide range of financial services. From audit and assurance to managing finances and bookkeeping, there are separate CPAs on staff who specialize in specific financial areas of your business operation.  The advantage to hiring a CPA firm is the immediate access to these specializations. If you hire an internal CPA or just use an accountant, you could face bandwidth issues or a lack of expertise which could hinder the growth of your company.

Find a CPA Firm with Experience in Your Industry.

Another consideration to make when choosing a CPA firm is to what extent that company has experience in the industry you operate. It’s important to understand that most CPAs gain experience in a few different industries, but the more specialized they are to your industry, the more valuable they become.  CPAs that have a wealth of experience working in your industry can add tremendous value to your organization. The longer they work in your industry, the easier it is for them to navigate the intricacies of your industry’s tax laws or financial matters. They can even add value by providing financial analysis and strategic business recommendations.

Hemphill Wright & Associates has experience in the following industries:

  • Colleges and Universities
  • Construction Contractors
  • Employee Benefit Plans
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Not for Profit Organizations
  • State and Local Government

Consider a Firm with a Global Reach.

As you start evaluating different CPA Firms, you’ll have a checklist of variables that you find important. One of these variables should be the location of the firm. Hiring a local CPA Firm had been the traditional way of establishing a relationship with a firm.  However, with today’s global economy, it has become increasingly important to hire a local firm that has a global reach.

There is no doubt that many clients still make that annual visit to the CPA’s office in order to drop off documents and pickup tax returns or financial statements, but quite frankly, like the fax machine, that is a dying breed.  Now-a-days clients can sit in the comfort of their home or office and have a very meaningful interaction with their CPA.  When selecting a firm, it’s important to select a “firm of the future”.  One that has embraced a more cost effective, efficient mode of operations.  Working through audit questions and explaining business recommendations can be done most efficiently via video call, chat, or even via conference call. Finding a local CPA firm still makes sense for many clients, but why not get the best of both worlds.  You deserve it.

Find Out Their Fees.

CPA fees are different for every firm. When choosing which CPA firm to work with, make sure you fully understand their fee schedule and billing process. Do they charge hourly? Do they charge by the minute? Maybe they charge set rates for specific services. Whatever the case, if you aren’t fully aware of how the firm charges, you may be surprised when you receive your invoice.

Knowing how they charge is important, but you also need to be aware of their billing methods. Some CPA Firms offer net payment terms, others require upfront retainers or invoice upon completion of a service. Your company’s cash flow may dictate which billing method is most appropriate. Outlining billing and fee methods before entering an agreement with a CPA firm is critical.

Take Time Vetting Your Options.

Finally, when it comes to choosing a CPA firm, you need to carefully evaluate all your options. You may find that many of the Firms you compare check off the boxes above, so you may need to dig a little deeper than just location, fees, and experience. Look online to see if the firm has a presence on social media. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, and other social profile to see how they interact with their customers.

Additionally, ask the firms for a customer list within your industry or look on their website to find any clients that you can reach out to and ask for feedback about their experience working with the firm.

Moreover, take the time to meet and talk with as many of the CPAs that you can. Many times, the deciding factor can come down to how much rapport and personal connection you have with a firm.

Choosing a CPA firm is an important move for businesses looking to take the next step in their financial management journey. From tax planning and bookkeeping to business valuation and audits, a CPA firm can provide that expert assistance that gives you peace of mind while allowing you to focus on your core competencies as a business. Keep the considerations above in mind when you’re deciding on the firm for your needs.

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