Top Five Things to Look for When Hiring A Certified Public Accountant

Author: Findlay CPA | | Categories: Accountants , Business Tax Preparation , Certified Public Accountants


The Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”), credential signals that the professional has the minimum experience, expertise, and knowledge necessary for licensure. Candidates who successfully completed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and have fulfilled all the state education and work experience requirements may submit a licensure application to the applicable state board of accountancy.

To maintain their licenses, CPAs are required to satisfy their state boards of accountancy that they have met certain minimum standards of education and ethical conduct annually. However, all CPAs are not equal, and choosing the right CPA may be a daunting task. Here is a list of the top five things to consider when choosing a Certified Public Accountant. 

1. Scope of work
Before you set out to engage a Certified Public Accountant, it is mandatory that you consider and clarify what services you require from the CPA. Among other things, define the scope of work to be performed, set the stage for the frequency with which services are to be performed, clarify your role in the engagement, define the deliverable(s) and understand the cost of the services. For example, an on-going bookkeeping engagement is actually, a series of periodic engagements, which require you to provide documents, explanations, and other data periodically. In this scenario, the service provider uses the data you provided to produce the deliverables, which is likely to be a set of basic financial statements including a balance sheet and profit and loss statement. In contrast, in an annual tax preparation engagement, you are required to provide the annual financial statements and other supporting documents.  

2. Competence and experience
The scope of work also dictates the required experience and professional certifications. For example, an accountant may or may not be licensed with the authority to sign reports on certain engagements such as financial statement audits. It is also important that the accountant has the experience pertinent to your industry and specific engagement. Moreover, given the rapid pace of change in today’s business environment, the recency of such experience is of paramount importance.

3. Process
As a business owner, your time is valuable. Service providers you employ should have clearly defined communication and document sharing processes. Moreover, it is important that you possess or acquire the skill, equipment, and software necessary to access any online document sharing tools implemented by the service provider. Failure to understand and adhere to these standards may negatively impact your ability to meet submission deadlines, reduce efficiency, extend delivery times, and add stress.

4. Technology and security
Technology plays a significant role in business operations and communications. As the use of technology expands, so too the importance of cybersecurity. Therefore, you must obtain a clear understanding of your CPA’s use of technology and its cybersecurity protocols. The time and effort to navigate the technological landscape should be commensurate with the task(s) at hand.  The service provider’s protocols should include strong firewalls, use of strong passwords, use of reputable online tools, and the existence of policies designed to address the risk posed by the service provider’s employees.

5. Staffing
It is important that you understand the CPA’s approach to staffing. In today’s business environment, many service providers turn to the use of foreign contractors to reduce costs. While the use of international contractors may reduce costs, it also adds special concerns. The service provider should disclose their use of international contractors. Be sure to obtain a full understanding of the service provider’s supervision and review policies, and the policy regarding your interaction, if any, with international contractors.

If you’re looking for a Certified Public Accountant in Dallas/Fort Worth, reach out to Findlay CPA.

We provide objective guidance and services that are squarely focused on your agenda. Our services include accounting and bookkeeping, payroll and cash management, business tax preparation, tax resolution, tax planning, and strategic planning and consulting. We serve clients across Grapevine, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Irving, and the surrounding areas.

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