When was the last time your CPA came up with an idea that would put thousands of dollars in your pocket? If you can’t answer this question with ease, you are not using your CPA to your advantage. A certified public accountant should be a trusted business adviser who is very familiar with your business and personal financial situation. Business owners should leverage this knowledge to develop the relationship further by seeking their CPA’s counsel on financial and non-financial matters. If you are not using your CPA as a trusted business adviser, ask yourself these questions about your relationship with your CPA:
1. Have I spent time telling my CPA my short- and long-term goals? Does my CPA understand why I am doing what I am doing? If not, spend time telling him or her more about yourself and your business, not just the numbers. The more a CPA knows, the more valuable he/she can be year after year by helping you plan and execute your goals, whether personal (income taxes, estate planning, retirement planning, etc.) or business (income taxes, exit strategies, etc.). Your CPA may not be an expert in all of these areas, but he/she can help you make the best possible decision when these issues arise.
2. Have you tapped into your CPA’s network and asked how other businesses are addressing issues that you and your business face? There is no need to reinvent the wheel; other business owners are going through the same issues you are. Leverage the relationships that your CPA has with other clients and professionals.
3. Are you outsourcing internal responsibilities to your CPA? Outsourcing can be a good thing, but some business owners like to outsource all of their accounting duties so they don’t have to worry about it. If you outsource bookkeeping, payroll and all of your detailed accounting duties to your CPA, the CPA is not going to have the time to provide you with forward-thinking advice because he/she is spending too much time on the details of your business. An alternative is to hire a bookkeeping firm and payroll service provider to help your administrative assistant get the books together. This is normally a cheaper alternative than hiring a CPA and you can free your CPA to help you with the items and issues mentioned above.
4. Are you reluctant to call your CPA because you know an invoice will show up the next month? Instead of paying by the hour, ask your CPA whether you can go to a fixed price arrangement. Tell your CPA the services you would like from him/her in the coming year and agree to a price that is fair for both parties up front. This should eliminate any surprise invoices and you will have an adviser ready to help during the decision process, not after. The investment will be worth it.
If any of the above circumstances describe your relationship with your CPA and you are not getting the value or services your desire, give your CPA a call to discuss these issues and work out a fair solution for both parties.
Marty McCutchen, CPA P.C., is a Fort Worth CPA firm providing comprehensive accounting and tax services for businesses in the Fort Worth Metroplex area. McCutchen and his staff have been helping clients for almost 20 years.