Jun 12, 2013 08:22
In addition to tax compliance, a business’s accountant can provide significant, additional value. To make the most of your accounting firm’s services, here are 5 recommendations for business owners, controllers and chief financial officers to take advantage of now.
1. Speak with your accountant often enough to ensure they know your business, its complexities and some of the biggest challenges you face. The frequency of your meetings will largely depend on which services you have your accountant perform (for example, closing your books monthly would necessitate frequent interactions), but a good starting point is to meet with them once per quarter.
2. Prepare questions in advance. Think of questions regarding inventory management, potential capital investments, financing, how you compare to peer companies, etc. Then, send these questions over to the accountant early, so they can prepare answers. Otherwise, part of your paid session will include reading over questions.
3. Draw on the accountant’s operational wisdom. Oftentimes, accountants work with many business clients at once, and that gives them exorbitant experience in running a company. Benefit from that experience, and ask about best practices in your and related industries. Part of this review can include the adequacy of your internal controls.
4. Seek technological and information management consultation. Many electronic bookkeeping systems or add-ons have excellent reporting abilities, allowing you to access information quickly. Ask what reports the accountant recommends you review and how to generate that report. They may also have tips on how to better manage financial information. While everyone recognizes a shoebox is an inadequate database, your accountant might have specific advice about storing and transcribing data. If you can present data to them more effectively, it could mean fewer billable hours you must pay for.
5. Ask for high-quality referrals. Accountants oftentimes work alongside lawyers, bankers and other professionals that could prove beneficial in your network. See who your accountant recommends.
CPAs and accountants that are just beginning to offer advisory services: download this whitepaper, "Beginner's Guide to Providing Business Advisory Services."