Questions to ask your Accountant

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Today with the ever-changing tax code, it has never been more important to have a professional accountant working on behalf of you and/or your small business. If you have never had a relationship with an accountant but are interested in getting started, below are questions to ask in your first interview. If you have an ongoing relationship and are pleased with the relationship, it is probably time to sit down with your accountant and chat.

Questions prior to hiring a new accountant for your small business or for your personal accounting

The relationship between an accountant and client is one of trust or at least it should be. It is essential that you carefully screen any individual that you bring into your finances; unfortunately scam artists exist out there. Take a moment and think about the type of information you will be handing over to the accountant – personal social security numbers, bank account numbers and information on your investments. It is essential that you select an accountant you trust, that will work for you or for your business.

Here are some questions to help get you started regardless of how you were first introduced to the accountant:

  1. What education, qualifications and certifications do you have?

As mentioned above, it is essential that you select an accountant that is properly certified and has the experience you need. Few things in life are as fragile as your financial status; you must carefully vet every person you give access to your personal information.

  1. Do you have specific expertise in…

Whether you are a business looking for an accountant or an individual seeking an accountant, it is essential to know if they have the experience you need. For example, if your business is in a highly regulated industry, it is helpful to have an accountant with industry experience. Likewise, if you are an individual with estate planning needs, recently came into a large sum of money or went through a divorce, you need to be able to rely on your accountant for the invaluable financial expertise they have.

  1. What services do you offer?

If your primary goal is just someone to prepare your corporate or personal taxes, then you can seek out accountants that focus in that particular area. However, if you are looking for more in the way of financial planning, estate planning or payroll, you need to select an accountant with a range of services you can rely on.

Questions to ask if you already have a relationship with an accountant

It may seem like common sense but you would be surprised of the number of businesses and individuals that do not consult with their accountant prior to large expenditures, changes in investments or estate planning. This is a mistake. Rely on your accountant to understand nuances in the tax code, how to evaluate strong financial opportunities and more. So, at least annually, sit down with your accountant and ask these questions.

  1. How can I improve cash flow for my business or personal finances?

You may be surprised at the guidance you may be given! Since your accountant knows what your financial status and has a good idea of what is happening in the industry, they may be able to point out something that is easy to implement to help you improve cash flow.

  1. What are your recommendations for estate planning?

Estate planning done right, can help you rest easy while ensuring your heirs are taken care of in the manner you desire.

  1. What am I doing financially that I shouldn’t be?

Be prepared for the truth!

  1. What am I not doing financially that I should be doing?

Your accountant can provide insight into opportunities to help mitigate taxes and save for the future.

The gist of all of this is to just ask. Open dialog with one of the most trusted and vital advisors you will ever have.

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