Accountants ought to provide services beyond the scope of tax preparation. Business owners in our community deserve and should expect more from their accounting and tax service providers. Your accountant should be:
1. Accessible and open all year round
2. Someone whom you can trust to offer you sound business advice and guidance (a trusted business advisor)
3. Someone who can interpret your financial results, and hold a meaningful discussion with you about what the numbers are saying about your business
4. Someone with whom you have an active relationship with right throughout the year, advising you on how to structure your affairs in a tax-efficient way. Not just at tax time, because at that point the relationship is reactive, not pro-active
5. Someone who can advise you on whether or not the systems and internal controls you have implemented in your business are effective. If not, they should be able to help in the re-design and implementation of suitable controls
6. Someone who can scrutinize the financial performance of a company that you would like to buy
7. Able to accurately present your company’s financial performance if you would like to obtain financing or are planning to sell
8. Able to provide or recommend you to an estate planner (for succession planning)
9. Transparent in the pricing of their services. That is, you should know exactly (or very close to exactly) what your bill will be for the service being provided. There should be no surprises when you open up the bill from your accountant
10. A highly trained professional, preferably one who is licensed to deal with the public. If they are licensed, then they belong to a professional body that regulates them, and ensures that their skills and training are current
11. Knowledgeable and up to date on your industry and current accounting/tax issues and trends (up to date on current tax and accounting issues)
12. Adding value with sound tax planning strategies
13. Properly represent you with the CRA
14. Ethical, and a right balance between conservative and aggressive, in respect of tax deductions
Note: When looking for an accountant, you should meet with about 2 or 3 accountants to determine what they have to offer, and if they will be a right fit for your company.
While fees are very important, your choice should not be made based on fees, but based on what your accountant will save you in time and money, as well as whether they are a right fit.
If you find the right accountant, he or she should be a priceless resource for your business as it progresses through its various stages (start up to maturity).