10 Things You Need to Know About Choosing an Accountant

Many paths to choosing an accountantFinding a good accountant can be tough, but it is essential to the success of your business. Here are the top 10 things to look for when starting your search.

Disclaimer: Use this list to grade your current accountant. If they don’t pass, it may be time to look elsewhere.

1) Not too aggressive, not too conservative

Everyone knows, or has at least has heard of, that accountant who seems a little shady. These accountants are willing to do whatever the client asks, even if it is borderline illegal. But then on the opposite end of the spectrum you have the ultra-conservative accountant. They won’t ever take an aggressive position, even if it is within the confines of the law. You need an accountant who is a good balance between these two. Everything they do/recommend is 100% legal but they are willing to be more aggressive where the law allows.

2) Explain things on your level

Most people outside of the accounting profession don’t understand accounting. That’s okay. I don’t know the first thing about engineering or fixing a car. However, a good accountant should be able to break things down so you can understand them. If they constantly have to use accounting jargon to explain themselves or sound smart, go find someone else.

3) Entrepreneurial spirit

In life, it is always refreshing to find someone that can relate to you, right? Choosing an accountant is no different. If your accountant can understand what owning a business is all about, that builds an immediate bond.

4) Fees, fees and more fees

There are two main ways an accountant can charge you. They can work on a fixed fee basis in which you know exactly how much you will be paying and what services you are getting. Or they can work on an hourly basis and charge you for each hour worked. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Just make sure you understand how they are charging you and what you are getting for your money.

5) Don’t forget to shop around

So you finally decide that you need an accountant or need a new accountant. You walk into the first accountant’s office, have an hour conversation and leave knowing he is your guy. While this may be true, I would recommend at least having a conversation with a few other accountants before you decide. This will give you a good baseline and help affirm your decision.

6) Meeting deadlines

Deadlines are extremely important for a business owner. If your accountant needs to prepare a report or complete a project by a certain date, it needs to be done. Speak with other clients of the accountant about the accountant’s timeliness and turn-around time on things.

7) Point of contact

Chances are your initial contact with a new accountant will be with a partner or someone very high up in the organization. Make sure you find out who you will be working with on a consistent basis. Working with lower level staff may be okay, but it is something you need to know before making your decision.

8) Accessibility

Everyone has heard someone say “I can’t get a hold of my accountant” or “my accountant never calls me back”. This should never be the case. Will your accountant be able to take your phone call or answer your email right away every single time? Of course not. But there is no excuse for them to ignore you or take forever to get back to you. Ask to speak with some of their current clients to see if this is an issue or not. Keep in mind they will most likely give you their best clients so if this seems like an issue at all, move on.

9) Forward-thinking

Laws are changing all the time. Technology is transforming the business world. Your accountant needs to stay on top of both of these if they want to provide you the best service possible. Discuss with your accountant some of the processes they use and also the software packages they utilize. Even if you don’t know what they’re explaining, it shows them that you’re going to involved and provides accountability.

10) Personal connection

This one gets overlooked. Your accountant is going to play a vital role in the success of your business. It needs to be someone that truly cares about your business and will give it to you straight. I am not saying that you need to be best friends, but there needs to be a mutual respect for each other as well as a certain level of transparency. If you don’t feel that connection right away, it may be best to look for other options.

Finding a new accountant can really be a daunting process; hopefully these 10 things will help guide you in your future search.

Check out this article on why it may be time to start that search: Your Most Damaging Mistake

41 Comments

  1. Braden Bills on December 14, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve always wondered what characteristics are preferred when looking for a business accountant. It makes sense that businesses would want someone with entrepreneurial spirit! That way they can ensure that their accountant will be willing to assist along the way!



  2. John on February 23, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    I like the suggestion in the article about choosing an accountant who will explain things on your level. I’ve been wanting to get a financial plan together, but I don’t know much about how finances work. Having an accountant who can help me plan my finances out, and explain them to me in a way I understand would be very helpful.



  3. John Mahoney on March 1, 2017 at 1:18 am

    I liked when you talked about finding an accountant that can explain things to you. It makes sense that remembering this can help you find someone you can put our trust in and has the tools to help you. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to make sure they shop around and find someone that has the right certifications to get the job done right.



    • The Quantify Group on March 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Exactly John – this is super important point. Glad you see the importance.



  4. Max Jones on March 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I think having an accountant explain things on my level would be the best thing for me. I’m not super familiar with the accounting field, so It could be helpful to me to have it simplified. I’ll have to find an accountant who is willing to do that. Thanks for the tips!



  5. Rachel Lannister on May 10, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    I loved what you said about making sure you choose an attorney that is well balanced, follows the law, but are willing to be more aggressive where the law allows. I had heard that many people and businesses could benefit from accountants, and I wondered why that was. With such a smart approach, they would safely guide your finances in a direction where you would see positive results and with little risk of losing anything. Thanks for the great article.



  6. Afton Jackson on June 8, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    My father is looking for help managing his money. He wants to make sure he is prepared for retirement, so he’s looking for a CPA. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose an accountant that meets deadlines to ensure you have a reliable resource. I’ll be sure to share this consideration with my dad.



  7. Harper Campbell on June 28, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    My husband and I are wanting to find an accountant to help us set up different budgets, and plans to stick to them. We have never needed this type of service before, so we are looking for some advice on how to choose one we can work well with. I like how you pointed out that we need to find someone who is able to help us meet deadlines, and is able to meet them as well. It will be nice knowing that we are working with someone that is reliable, and gets the job done.



  8. Max Jones on July 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    My wife and I have thrown around the idea of hiring accountants in the past, but I think that it would be good for us to be able to have everything in order. I’m not really sure what I should be looking for in accountants, so your tip to shop around is really helpful for me to go and visit a few offices before making a decision. I’ll have to share this with my wife and go visit a few different accountants offices before we decide which one to go with! Thanks for the information!



  9. Gloria Durst on July 10, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    I agree that a good accountant can help you meet deadlines. Because of this important feature, it would be smart to make sure they are punctual and up to date with their work. This would allow you to be sure that they will meet your deadlines as well as their own.



  10. Elvera Marks on July 25, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us. It really helps.



  11. Finley Moreira on July 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I’m looking at hiring an accountant as I’m not very good about budgeting. I like how you pointed out that it’s important to find an accountant that can help you understand financial terms on your specific level. I don’t know much about investing, so this would be really helpful to someone like myself.



  12. Morris Edwards on August 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Great post. thanks for sharing. Choosing an accountant is really a huge task to do.



  13. Sandra Hexner on August 11, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you for all this great information about choosing an accountant]! I really like your point about making sure that the tax accountant has the time to get back to me. That is a great point that if I need to get a hold of them and they are unresponsive, it won’t be the best fit for my needs. It’s also inciteful to know that that the current clients that he may let me speak to, will be his best clients, so if there is any concern about the fit, then move on to the next option.



  14. Tiffany Locke on August 31, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I like your advice to meet with several accountants before you decide. This could help you compare their interaction with you and responses to your questions in order for you to choose the best one for your situation. In order to do this, you’d probably want to research the different accountants in your area so you can meet with your top choices and ensure they’re in the area and you can go talk to them if necessary.



  15. Roger Middleton on September 6, 2017 at 2:14 am

    I liked that you had mentioned that when looking for an accountant that it can be important to look for someone who has the same mindset as you and can understand what it’s like building a business, that can be an instant bond. My wife runs a small shop in town, and lately, we’ve been looking for an accountant that can help with any small things that come up, especially since we’ve gotten really busy. Once we start looking, we’ll be searching for an accountant that we can relate with and one that is certified in the work.



  16. scott on September 14, 2017 at 12:04 am

    I like that you recommend to ask who you will be working with on a continual basis. You might also consider taking that person out to lunch. That way, you can get to know them on a personal level.



  17. Brayden Brade on September 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    That’s a great idea to hire an account who can explain things in a way that I’ll understand. I’m starting a small business with a friend so we’ll definitely keep this in mind as we look for a suitable accountant. Thanks for the advice.



  18. Jack Duff on November 15, 2017 at 4:38 am

    I like that you mentioned that a good accountant will be able to break things down to you and explain them so you can understand. That way, you can be on the same page and feel a lot more comfortable with him. I am trying to find a new accountant to help me get my finances in order this year. I will definitely be looking for this quality, thanks.



  19. Jordan on November 25, 2017 at 2:19 am

    I really like the idea you shared of an accountant who is forward thinking. I’m going to have to look for an accountant who can help me with my finances and making the best decisions. I’ll have to look for that forward thinking and see if we can find some good accountants!



  20. Latoya Anderson on February 20, 2018 at 12:21 am

    I like that you suggested hiring a CPA that can explain to you things in a way that you will understand them and prevent using accounting jargon to explain themselves. My mother is dreaming of owning a business in the future that will require her to hire a CPA. Since she doesn’t know the matters that concern accounting, and there are terms in accounting that an ordinary people won’t understand, it’s important for her to choose a CPA that will take their time to break things down to her in an understandable manner. Thanks for sharing this.



  21. Pamela Brown on March 8, 2018 at 1:46 am

    My most favorite part of your blog for me is when you suggested shopping around by talking to several accountants to make sure that you will be able to make an informed decision on who to hire. I have a friend who’s interested in hiring a CPA to help her prepare her tax returns. She wants a professional that she can get along well with and someone who has experience and skills that she can trust. It will make sense for her to interview multiple CPA’s so she can compare them and be able to choose the best. Thanks for sharing this.



  22. Callum Palmer on March 12, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    These are some great tips; after all, when you’re looking for an accountant you have to have an idea of what you need. I particularly like that one of the suggestions that the article makes is to look into the accessibility of the accountant. After all, once you’ve hired one you’ll want to be able to ask them any questions about your personal or business money.



  23. Riley Smith on March 12, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    You made a great point about choosing someone that will get back to you quickly. My wife and I have been looking for someone to help us figure out our taxes. It would be smart to choose someone that responds quickly because they could help us solve problems quickly as well.



  24. Julius Amberfield on March 12, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    It was really nice how you said that when it comes to looking for an accountant one of the things that we need to look for is someone who will explain the process in a way that will be easy for me to understand. That’s fair considering that I do not know anything about accountancy. It would be nice if I can get my hands on an accounting professional who will teach me what I need to know about my business. Thank you. I will keep this in mind for when I start a business.



  25. Sutton Turner on March 21, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I am glad you talked about how to look for a personal connection when choosing an accountant. I am looking for an accountant after I recently started making more money. Thank you for the tips for choosing a good accounting service.



  26. Accounting Services Online on March 25, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Choosing an accountant is really a time consuming and stressful task for the non-experienced person! Experienced and the professional accountant plays an important role not only to manage your business, but also the hardly earned money. I really like your post, Thanks for sharing it.



  27. Earnest Watkins on March 28, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I’ve been thinking of hiring an accountant to help me with my finances. I like how you suggest looking for one that can help explain things on your level for you to understand. This would definitely be something I’d appreciate since I’d feel more in the loop about the state of my finances.



  28. Kyle Wayne on March 28, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    I’m really glad you talked about knowing all the fees before hiring. My dad is looking to hire an accountant to get all of his tas forms taken care of. I think I will talk to him about knows the fees included before hiring.



  29. Riley Smith on April 2, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    It’s interesting that you talked about choosing an accountant that will return your calls. I have been looking for someone to help me figure out my tax situation. It would be smart to choose someone really responsive because it will help me feel more in control of the situation.



  30. Ridley Fitzgerald on April 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    It’s good to know how to find the best accountant. I like how you said that they need to be punctual and able to meet deadlines. If I owned a business, I could use all the help I could get with meeting deadlines because I’m terrible with time.



  31. Hannah Neilson on April 11, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I agree that you want to find an accountant that will explain things on your level. It would be good to consider this because it would show that they know how to explain things. My husband and I are looking for an accountant to help with our taxes, so we’ll have to check how qualified they are first.



  32. Bryan on April 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Definitely important to work with someone that can talk in laymen terms. I think it helps to build the relationship.



  33. Burt Silver on April 20, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    I like what you said under forward-thinking and how laws are changing all the time. This is something my wife and I are not very educated on so it’s important to us that we find someone that can take care of our taxes for us when it comes tax season. We’ll definitely have to keep your tips in mind while looking for a good accountant. Thanks!



  34. Steve Kostovski on May 3, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    I think it is also important to choose an accountant who goes out of their way to be proactive, especially for small business clients. As a business, there are so many things we need to keep on top of and sometimes it is not practical to stay up to date with the latest changes in regulations. Right now we are in the 3rd Quarter in Australia and a good small business accountant has the duty to be proactive and contact their clients who may not be achieving their target numbers from last year and talk about options.



  35. Ivanna Flint on May 7, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I do agree with you that accounting work is not exactly, so it was nice to know that a CPA will break things down for me in order for me to understand them better. To be honest, I know nothing about math, and that was the reason why I am having difficulties with my business. It was good to realize that a CPA will help make things easier for me. I’ll consider it. Thanks!



  36. Schiro Ackermann on May 8, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    My sister has been interested in getting an accounting professional to help her with a quick book thing, so I decided to research what she needs to consider. It was nice to see this and learn that one of the best ways to find a good one is to see if the accountant can break down pieces of info so that the person understands. I will keep this since as far as I know, she knows nothing about math. Thanks!



  37. Angela Fritzsch on May 21, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Hiring an accountant for your business is no longer just about finding someone good at number-crunching and getting the maximum returns .



  38. Ellie Davis on May 21, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I really appreciate that you suggest finding an accountant that can explain things on your level. My husband and I are wanting to find an accountant that can help us with our taxes. I’ll have to do some research and find the best one in our area.



  39. Alexandria Martinez on July 6, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    My fiance was thinking about getting an accountant but wasn’t sure how to choose one. He wants to make sure that he is getting the best help possible. Looking at their ability to make personal connections is a great insight.



  40. Ellen Hughes on August 1, 2018 at 12:17 am

    I like that you suggested meeting different accountants before making a decision in choosing the right one to make sure that you will get a good baseline of each accountant. My husband and I are planning to establish a business in the future. We want to make sure that we will be able to hire an accountant that will make us feel comfortable and will us treat us fairly, so we’ll be sure to consider all your tips.