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    7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 25, 2013 5:03 PM by D2x2993

    What do you look for in an accountant

    Tran Nguyen Tracker

      Hello All,


      I thought I get your input on this. I was talking with a client today who told me...


      "I wished picking an accountant was like picking a new pet -- you can go into the pet store and play with them prior to taking them home."


      That got me to thinking about two things. First, I wonder how a tummy rub really feels like. And the second...what do people look for in an accountant? It seems like most people confuse bookkeeper with accounting anyway, so beyond being able to do bookkeeping, what else do you look for?

        • Re: What do you look for in an accountant

          Hi Tran,


          A good and reputable accountant does allow you to play with them before you decide to become their client. Our accountant of over 12 years now came to us by word of mouth. She was highly recommended by a successful business owner who filled us in on her capabilities before hand.


          I will never forget our first consultation with her. We were just starting our business and needed to have many questions answered. Financially we were a little strapped so we were looking for advice to guide us in the right direction in that arena as well.  She set up a free consultation with us so that she could explain her services and answer our questions. She asked us to provide her with any information pertaining to our business and come prepare with an outline of a business plan. It was only an hour, but we walked out of her office as a new business client. She answered all of our questions, went over our business plan, and steered us in the right direction financially. But the biggest surprise (and of course the one question on everyones mind - how much will her services cost) was answered in a very simple black and white formula. She calculated about how much taxes we would be getting back for that up coming year and showed us on paper, which was a very nice surprise. But then she realized that her fee was not included and then recalculated our return again and asked us if that bottom line would be acceptable. Of course, who would disagree with getting more money back from the government. Her simple philosophy was "if I do my job well and can earn my clients a higher refund check each year then that means my clients pay me less out of their own pockets". Since then, every year our business walks away with a large refund check from the government and her fee is earned from that check.



            • Re: What do you look for in an accountant
              Tran Nguyen Tracker

              Hi Melinda,


              That actually makes a lot of sense since the refund checks pays for the accountant's bill -- a lot of accountants do that actually.


              But it raises another question for me. I have a tax department, but I do not practice tax accounting -- it is not because I don't know it, but more because I just enjoy sleeping. For me, I have had clients come in and I provide hours of consultations and advising from forecasting, budgeting, cash flow, and all of that.


              However, the one snag I have been running into is that I have a company policy of never charging a start-up business that is under one year old. When I established this policy, it was meant to assist start-up businesses and guide start-up companies in the right financial directions. Sadly, it's backfiring on me a tad.


              While I've had a lot of great opportunities to learn about industries that would otherwise stay unavailable to me. I've gotten the "It's too good to be true" and the "Anything that's free can't be that good" from a few potential clients.


              Now the good news, they have all signed on with me and have successful businesses -- but it really made me wonder about good accounting. I like your accounting story since I believe that's the mark of a good accountant. But for me, I deal with operational accounting -- the bookkeeping, cash flow analysis, trends, break-even, and all that.


              It doesn't seem like the world  has an idea that such accountants exists

            • Re: What do you look for in an accountant
              D2x2993 Adventurer

              Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of small businesses and because of that a number of accountants. I feel a good accountant is going to do more than do your books and your taxes.  A good accountant should have the ability to analyze your business. They will use three primary statements (P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow) to help analyze a business. They will use the statements to help explain weaknesses and how minimize them as well as strengths and how to capitalize on them. Of course, they are not charity workers so you should be prepared to pay them for their services.


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              • Re: What do you look for in an accountant
                kushik Wayfarer

                A piece of advice I once received was to get an accountant who is the same age or younger than you. Just like your doctor, you want him/her to 'outlive' you.


                A strategy you can use when interviewing potential candidates - is to tell them you are meeting with a few other accountants and what do they think you should know and questions to ask? That might prompt them to bring up items you might not otherwise think or know about.