Hiring an accountant to handle the financials of your Los Angeles business could be a smart move if you need some expert guidance or lack time to do it yourself. It is important to find the right person for the job, so you need to ask the following four important questions when hiring a CPA.
- What is Your Experience Working with Small Businesses in the Industry I Operate in?
Small business accounting is complex in its own way, and it is advisable to hire a professional that specializes in working with smaller clients. Accountants who work with small businesses exclusively will be knowledgeable about the federal and state tax provisions, and any other issues that might arise.
You should also find out whether the CPA has experience working with businesses with a structure similar to yours. If yours is a sole proprietorship, filing taxes will follow a different protocol than a corporation or partnership. Some accountants also focus on particular industries, which can be useful.
- What Type of CPA Are You & What Are the Services You Provide?
Accountants are not all the same. Some have more training and education than others, which allows them to provide a wider range of services. For example, CPAs must be licensed in their home state and complete continuing education classes to retain this license. CPAs are also qualified to perform functions that those with just a degree in accounting but have not completed all the requirements for becoming a CPA would be unable to do.
If you are seeking assistance with things that don’t necessarily pertain to the business such as estate planning or investment consulting, CPA might be qualified to offer such services, but not many of them do. A Los Angeles financial advisor would be better suited in such a situation to provide guidance and advice on such things as planning your retirement, establishing a trust, or setting up your will.
- What Are Your Charges?
You will need to discuss the issue of fees and how the accountant bills for clients at some point during the discussion. Does the accountant charge a flat rate for particular tasks or an hourly rate? Do particular services or situations qualify for discounts? When is the payment due and how are the invoices delivered? Laying everything out in the open ensures that you won’t find some unexpected surprises later on.
- How Much of Your Time Can My Business Reasonably Expect?
Accountants usually offer their services throughout the year. However, some limit their availability to the peak tax filing season, which is the period between January and April. When talking with accountants in your area, it is important to have a general idea of their schedule for the whole year and where you fit in. You should ideally choose an accountant capable of accommodating your accounting needs during tax season and beyond.
The Bottom Line
While it is critical to hire an accountant to keep your finances in check, you can handle some of the accounting tasks on your own. You will find many free resources online that teach you how to carry out such functions. For the non-accounting but finance-related tasks, you should consider hiring a Los Angeles financial planner.
Thanks to our friend and financial advisor in Los Angeles, Samuel Rad, for his insight on four important questions to ask before hiring a CPA. Sam is a Certified Financial Planner in Los Angeles and has a wide range of knowledge about personal financial issues. He has helped many people meet their financial goals.