Is tax time coming up and you don't even know how to start? Are you running a small business and having trouble keeping track of finances? If so, you are not alone, and there is help! An accountant is a professional who takes care of the accounting needs of an individual or a business, including bookkeeping, tax preparation, financial advice, and more. Choosing an accountant is a highly individual process, as everyone has different needs.
- Determine what your specific needs are. Do you need an accountant for your business or for your personal finances? Do you need to create a budget, need help with financial planning, need financial records kept, or do you just want someone who will prepare your taxes? Accountants and accounting firms often have specialties, and they all have their own strengths, so make sure you know what you are looking for.
- Get personal recommendations. If you have a friend or a relative who loves her accountant, ask her about it! It is best to find someone who is in a position similar to yours (who is happy with her accountant). If you can't find personal recommendations, go to a site like Yelp and see how people have reviewed various accountants.
- Speak personally with the accountants. After you have recommendations, speak with the accountant or accountants that interest you. Explain what you are looking for and ask any questions that you might have. Watch and listen for clear, direct answers and make sure you feel comfortable with the accountant. Feel free to ask about credentials and experience - most accountants will be happy to provide that information.
- Determine how much it will cost. As with many professional services, cheapest is not necessarily best when it comes to accountants! On the other hand, you don't want to be overcharged. Do a little comparative shopping to make sure that the fees seem to be within an acceptable range.
- Consider your feelings. It may sound silly to involve feelings in a business or financial decision, but if you are working with someone, especially someone who will be working with your money, you want to feel secure and comfortable. If you are uncomfortable with the accountant for any reason, choose a different one.
- Get a timeline. Make sure you talk to the prospective accountant about when you need things done. If you are on a tight deadline for tax season, make sure that he or she can meet that deadline. You need to make sure that the accountant you choose can give you the time that you need!
Once you have chosen an accountant, make sure that you communicate your needs clearly to your accountant. Communication is important in any relationship, especially when the relationship involves your finances.