If you’re reading this article, then you’re on the lookout for an accounting and bookkeeping firm. Firstly, congratulations that you didn’t make the mistake of trying to be the accountant for your business. Most entrepreneurs take accounting lightly and end up make terrible business decisions.
Now, how do you hire the best possible accounting and bookkeeping firm for your business? The trick to that is to ask the right questions. Understand that it’s just like hiring an employee for your business. You would only want the right fit. But business owners do not really understand which questions to ask.
The questions should help you understand if the firm is experienced, capable and professional enough to have your best interests at heart. To help you do that, we listed the 10 questions to ask before hiring an accounting and bookkeeping firm.
1. Are You Registered as a Bookkeeper/Accountant?
In most countries of the world, the accounting profession is regulated by Government-authorised council/boards. Only those professionals who are registered with the board are allowed to practice accounting.
They are the only ones whose signature and work are accepted by the Government. As a result, the first question to ask your accountant should be if he/she is registered. The same question is also applicable if you’re looking for a tax accountant for your company.
2. How Long Is Your Experience as a CA/CPA?
Accounting is a broad field. Each industry has its own peculiarities from a bookkeeping point of view. As a result, its hard as simple as in the course books. True expertise comes with experience.
Having an accountant that is experienced in handling engagement projects over a long period of time, promises varied exposure to different situations. These are the type of know-how that only comes with time and you would want them on your side.
3. What Experience Do You Have in the _____ Industry?
On a similar note to the previous point, it is also important that your CA/CPA’s experience is relevant to your business and industry. Having 5 years of experience in the automobile will be of no use to you if you’re in banking.
Additionally, some industries are more complex from an accounting and reporting point of view. Understanding how to deal with such intricacies only comes with specific industry exposure.
4. How Many Clients Do You Currently Have and What Is the Size of the Majority of Them?
All accountants are not experts in everything. Most accountants spend their career focusing on particular industry and service segments. So, an accountant that’s used to handling big banking institutions will not suddenly shift to manufacturing.
Similarly, an accountant managing accounts for a large enterprise will not be an expert in small and medium businesses. In order to understand if your bookkeepers will be able to help you, you need to understand if they have the experience of working with companies of your size.
This will allow them to anticipate and help solve problems particular to your case.
5. Will I Be Working With You or Your Staff?
Depending on the size of the project and the service, the accounting firm will designate a partner or a team of associates. Associates are less experienced while a partner or a project lead is much more experienced.
However, the more experienced accountant also means that you’ll have to pay more since experienced staff have a higher per hour rate.
6. How Will You Be Communicating With Them and at What Frequency?
Understand and pre-fix how you’ll be communicating with the client. Are they going to be based at your office or at their place? Will they visit your office? How often will they make visits? Will they give your periodic status updates? These questions are essential to ensure your paperwork is prepared on time and submitted on time.
7. How Do They Protect Client Data?
Data protection is one of the key security and confidentiality issues organisations have to deal with today. Ensure that your financial statements and other related data are safeguarded using proper information technology protocols and safety measures.
8. What Technologies Do They Use to Work?
In order to ensure synergy with your accounting and bookkeeping firm, it is essential that your technology tools are in sync as well. So, if your working on Google Docs, Asana and Quickbooks, it’s easier for all parties involved if your partner to have experience working on these applications.
9. How Are the Services Priced?
Professional firm price their services on an hourly, fixed price and case-to-case basis. Either way, you need a complete understanding of their pricing structure so you’re not caught off-guard at the end of the month when their invoice arrives.
10. How Will They Improve Your Bottom Line?
Finally, an accountant cannot be good enough if they do not know how to improve your baseline. The work of an accountant is to not only ensure reporting of financial information but also to ensure the financial health of the organisation and advise accordingly.
As a result, its important to know how the firm thinks they can help you.