You have worked hard for years and years for your money — saving, investing, planning, and putting much thought and time into building up your financial situation.
There are, however, many rules, regulations, intricacies, and nuances in the financial world, and you may not understand everything. Some of those things, if not handled correctly, could threaten or even hurt the prosperity you have labored to build.
It would then be prudent to seek out someone who understands the highways, the back roads, the turns, and even the dead ends on your financial road trip, someone who can examine and understand your particular situation and owns a wealth of experience on which you can rely.
You need an accountant, one who will work hard to protect you and your money.
You should really consider many different factors when choosing the right accountant to handle your personal finances or your company’s finances. However, here are six tips to help you start your search.
As you begin your search for an accountant, opt for a certified public accountant, also known as a CPA. A certified public accountant is someone who has met their state’s licensing requirements. These vary from state to state, but they generally include minimum education and experience requirements, combined with passing a CPA exam. Certified public accountants must complete a minimum amount of continuing education courses each year, too.
There are certain accounting tasks that only a CPA can perform, so you want an accountant who can properly handle anything and everything that could possibly cross your financial path. Make sure your accountant is certified.
Now that you know you should seek the services of a certified public accountant, your next step is to actually seek one! Start that search by asking around.
In a world of instant information available on the Internet, word-of-mouth is still an important resource for you. You respect the opinions of your family and friends in other matters — ask them about the experiences with accountants.
Who have they used in the past? How were their experiences? Would they use that accountant again, and would they recommend them to another person?
Take these opinions, recommendations, and referrals, and compile a list of the accountants in your area that your friends and family trust their money with, and conversely, a list of the accountants in your area they would not use.
One bad experience from a friend or relative does not necessarily make an accountant a bad accountant, but as you gather recommendations, remember that “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”
Armed with your list of possibilities, you can now shop around!
You research, compare, and contrast when purchasing an item; it is smart to do the same thing when purchasing a service.
Make phone calls to all of your potential choices, or meet with these accountants face-to-face. Ask them questions, and as you talk with them, try to gauge their character, experience, and knowledge. After all, you are trusting your money to this accountant; you should be able to trust them!
Also, compare their fees. What services do you receive for what price? You may pay more for the services of a certain accountant, but you may receive more in expertise, experience, and assistance. The lowest fee does not always mean the best value.
In the same vein, be certain to determine whether the accountant’s experience is relative to your needs. As you shop around, you may discover an accountant who comes highly recommended, with decades of experience and loads of knowledge. Sounds like a sure thing, right? You may, however, realize too late that their skill set has little to do with your particular financial needs.
Does this accountant have experience preparing returns and documents for someone or some company in the same situation as you? Have they ever handled business at your financial level? Do they understand your unique position?
Your ultimate concern when choosing an accountant or accounting firm is your money, so you obviously want someone who will properly handle your finances. You also want someone who is going to be proactive.
Being proactive simply means making things happen, not sitting and waiting for things to happen. Will this accountant act, or will they just react? Will you just be another name on their client list, or will they take a personal interest — as much as possible — in handling and protecting your money?
You want someone who will work hard for you and make you feel like you are their only client, even though you probably are not.
Before hiring an accountant, try to understand their ways, methods, and enthusiasm as you discuss your particular needs during the interview process.
Finally, before hiring an accountant, make sure to do a background check on them.
Your state’s board of accountancy can update you on the status of the accountant’s license and also tell you whether they have ever faced discipline.
The IRS Office of Professional Responsibility can also inform you whether the accountant has ever been censured, disbarred, or had some other disciplinary action enacted against them.
Again, your concern is ultimately your money. You are trusting this accountant to care for it and to guide you through the ins, outs, and nuances of your own financial journey. You need to find someone worthy of that trust.
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