How often do you see or speak with your accountant?
Many small business owners are so busy and detached from their finances, they only make time to see their accountant annually, at tax time. And with the advent of technology many are bypassing this key professional, opting instead to work remotely with companies claiming to be staffed by accountants but who are thousands of miles away. At times these accounting or tax services are physically off-shore but the clients aren't made aware of this.
Although you can find excellent financial providers throughout, I would advise anyone with a business to steer clear of having someone do your tax returns that is not physically present located in your area.
Think about it this way: when you have a good working relationship with a professional who contributes value to your business, you will be the first to benefit from that relationship. Since accountants are so vital to the success of your business, wouldn't it make sense to check in and have regular discussions about your goals or concerns?
"The smartest move you can do as an entrepreneur is work with a proactive accountant who is willing to give you his/her time on a regular basis...Find someone who's not just a numbers cruncher. Smart entrepreneurs need a year-round adviser".
Cultivating a relationship with your accountant is key to achieving your financial goals. Here are my top reasons.
1. Does your accountant understand your business or industry?
Although it might not seem important but knowing if your accountant really understand how your particular business or industry works will make a difference your tax liabilities. Some specialize in manufacturing while others in real estate. Some work with service industries while others with the arts. While many small accounting firms specialize in general small business taxes, make sure that your accountant has experience with your particular business or industry. That specialized knowledge is what will help optimize your deductions correctly and reduce your taxes.
Additionally, each state has its unique set of regulations. Although tax software help us prepare taxes nationally, tax software is not perfect. Accountants who aren't familiar with rules of your particular location run the risk of missing your state's regulations. This is especially true for firms who are out of state or off-shore. In situations of an audit, your remote accountant is unlikely to meet with tax agents or represent you during an audit.
2. Is your accountant aware of your goals?
Accountants work with many clients so keeping track of each client's needs or concerns can be a challenge. Without cultivating a relationship how do you convey your goals to your accountant? There is no better way than to take time and meet in person. Although this takes time, I haven't figure out a better way to learn about my clients. I can't tell you how often I discover critical information from our meetings that has immediate and direct impact on their tax returns. Although good accountants will want to inquire about your objectives, it's also up to you to make us aware of them. Emailing or leaving messages is not going to work, since we all know these are easily overlooked or lost. So in- person meetings is the way to do it.
3. Is your accountant receptive to your inquires and discussions?
Does your accountant call you back within a reasonable time and encourage regular meetings? That can all depend on when you're trying to schedule them. If you're looking to have financial discussions during the peak tax season than you've missed the boat. Once the tax season ends my office encourages clients to come in and discuss their goals. If you're procrastinating seeing your accountant but make the reluctant meeting right at tax filing be aware. This is the wrong time to start important discussions. First, the year is over and most changes you could have implemented are too late now. Second, you're looking to prioritize your concerns while the accountant is under the stress of deadlines and tax compliance. Under such conditions you're risking limited attention and possibly errors on your tax returns.
Making time for meetings away from deadlines is the best way we can help our clients meet their financial goals. Accountants who are reluctant to make time for face-to-face meetings or return phone calls are probably ready to switch careers or retire. If you're not getting the attention you deserve, look for another professional. Remember, a dedicated accountant will be key to your financial success!
Business management tips by OnPoint, a New York, NY Tax Service Firm staffed by real accountants.
Two Locations: 100 Church Street, New York, NY 10007 Ph: 212-920-1184 and 57 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 Ph: 646-416-8172