A good accountant is like a good bartender - if he or she does not have the time to LISTEN to you, then it's time to consider a change.


No matter what stage your business is at, a qualified accountant will help you steer a steady course. A good small business accountant not only understands and keeps up with various tax laws, but should be willing to learn enough about your business to become an important member of your advisory team.


But how do you find the right accountant for yourself or your  small business?


Get recommendations


The best way to find a good accountant is through word of mouth. Ask friends, neighbors, and business associates for recommendations. Call the local professional society. Scan various online sources.


In addition to being able to crunch numbers and understand complex tax laws, a good accountant should be a good listener who genuinely cares about you and your business.


Remember, in order to do a good job, your accountant has to know many things about you, your family, your finances and your business. This is why it is essential to find someone that you feel comfortable talking to. He or she should be both competent and have good chemistry with you.

Does size matter to you?


Many individuals and entrepreneurs prefer to work with smaller accountants, where they're more likely to receive personalized service. (You want to be a considered a valued customer - not a nuisance!)

Keep in mind that professional fees and hourly rates will generally increase in proportion to the size of the firm. The expensive downtown rents and other overhead costs are financed not through magic - only through higher fees. Asking about the hourly rates charged by your accountant is acceptable. Insist on a straight answer.


Larger accounting firms will have the in house experience to deal with most of your issues.


Smaller firms must have a network of contacts, and will occasionally refer you to specialists.


Decide which option you prefer, and keep an eye on your budget.


As with any other expenditure - only buy what you need.

Schedule an appointment


Call and make an appointment to meet with the accountant.

Schedule at least half an hour for an initial visit. Many reputable accountants will agree to an initial meeting with prospective clients at no charge.


Make a list of questions you want to ask during your interview. You need to determine whether or not he/she is competent. Sit back and listen to what they say. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking with them. Remember, you will be sharing very personal financial information.


Here are some possible discussion points:


Particulars of the work that you will be expecting the accountant to carry out.
Particulars relating to fees and billing frequency.
How many years of experience does the accountant possess?
When specifically does the accountant need information from you?
Will he or she represent you in a dispute with the tax department?
Does he/she have a sufficient level of computer literacy?
If you need to reach the accountant during non-business hours, can you?
Does he/she have a good sense of humour?


These are just some basic ones. You will likely have other questions or concerns - voice them.

Ask for credentials


Verify that the accountant is a member of a professional accounting association (CPA, CA, CGA, CMA). If he/she is not, then they are a bookkeeper, not an accountant.

Keep in mind that a bookkeeper, regardless of how qualified, is not an accountant, just as a registered nurse is not a doctor.

If worst comes to worst…


Remember, if things don't work out, you can always change accountants. Although you would certainly prefer to maintain a continuity in your relationship, there are occasions that call for a change. Before you do make that change - a word of advice - do your homework and assure yourself that you are making a change for the better. You don't want to make a habit of switching accountants!



Contact Us Today!

Nathan Rosenshein, CPA

3901 Jean Talon West,

Suite 100

Montreal, Qc, Canada

H3R 2G4

Phone: 514-564-3814

Fax: 514-482-4128

E-mail: nathan@nrosencga.com

We're on YOUR side!


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