4. Stay proactive.
Submit questions in advance. Make sure your accountant receives your queries ahead of time so they have ample to consider your numbers prior to making a firm recommendation.
5. Share essential documents.
Take with you the necessary documentation, especially if this is your first meeting. You should confirm with the accounting firm which documents are pertinent to your visit, but most likely it will include the past two years’ tax returns and financial statements.
6. Draw on their operational wisdom.
Unless your accountant is new to the field, he or she likely has insight into the 100+ businesses they have worked with over time. Their experience has shown them over time what works and what doesn’t work as well in general business.
7. Ask for an assessment.
Ask them to assess your business’s internal controls. Being close to the action is typically good because you are better prepared to make an informed decision. But it is possible to be too close especially for internal control development. Processes or checks that make sense to you may be the function of habit rather than best practice, so ask your account to evaluate your current controls and their outcomes.
8. Request a technology consultation.
Most likely you are using an electronic general ledger package, but you may not be using it effectively. Encourage your accountant set up your bookkeeping system or make recommendations on how you can enhance its efficiency.
9. Ask for information organization tips.
If it would help them for you to organize your paperwork or financial files differently, then you may be able to negotiate a fee decrease since they will spend less time sorting and organizing your data.
10. Seek referrals.
If you are in the market for a particular non-accounting service, see if your accountant has a contact from their professional network that they would recommend. Because of the tangential industries, most accounting firms have working relationships with local law firms, financial institutions, as well as all the industries in which they have clients.
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Libby Bierman is an analyst at Sageworks Inc., a financial information company and provider of risk management solutions. The company has been named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the US and to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
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