How to Interview an Accountant

When you interview an accountant it can seem like a daunting task. However, can be as simple as asking the right questions. At Worthtax, we have reviewed thousands of tax returns over our history. You want an organized, accurate accountant with good communication skills. Someone who will explain the tax breaks to you accurately and in a language you can understand as a real estate investor. Ideally, you want someone with an excellent education and training, who is easy to work with, and most of all, someone who knows the tax breaks and will save you money.

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Accountant’s Personality: Plus or Minus?

You may find most accountants to have dry personalities. As a result, just remember that while you are looking for someone on your team, you are not looking for a sales person who can wow you with their sales pitch. You should be more interested in their knowledge, competence and experience. When interviewing an accountant remember the core competencies that are most important to your business’ success. Does the accountant have the expertise, experience, accuracy and proficiency you need to maximize your returns?

Know What You Are Looking For in an Accountant

When you call the accountant or accounting firm always give them a background about your business. This should include: The number of employees you have, type of business structure you are, date your business was established, types of services you are looking for, and so on.

Ask as Many Questions as You Want

When you interview an accountant, hopefully you will have a good dialogue going with him or her as you speak over the phone. Keep your ears open for the questions the other person asks, as well. This will help you get an idea about their level of expertise. Do they ask questions? Do you offer solutions to your problems? The accoutant may be able to fill in some areas you may have forgotten to mention or may not have taken into consideration.

How Many Accountants Should I Call?

Vet at least two to three accountants or accounting firms by asking these questions:

  1. How many people work in your accounting practice? Is it just you or are you an accounting firm?
  2. What types of businesses do you usually work with?
  3. Do you specialize in any particular area of business accounting?
  4. How many years of experience do you have as an accountant?
  5. How many of your clients have a similar business structure as I have described to you about my business?
  6. What types of checks and systems do you have in place to assure accuracy.
  7. I’m interested in your level of expertise, can you tell me about it?
  8. What certifications do you have? Are you a CPA?
  9. What makes you the better candidate for my business than another accounting firm?
  10. Do you own investment properties yourself?
  11. What types of investment properties do you own? (e.g. – vacation rentals, rental properties, farm land, have you sold any on land contract, so on and so forth)?
  12. What types of accounting or tax services do you provide (e.g. – Peachtree, Quickbooks, tax planning, tax preparation, tax planning, tax advice)?
  13. Tell me about any other areas of expertise you may have?If you explained about your business well enough, and they were listening, hopefully you won’t have to lead them in this question, such as having to mention real estate specifically.
  14. What percentage of your client base own real estate that produces income?
  15. Would anyone else in your office be handling my books? What is their level of expertise in real estate accounting?

Learn About The Accountant’s Expectations:

Remember this person will be an integral part of your team, so you when you interview an accountant you will want to know what they need to successfully maximize your business returns:

  1. How many hours a month can you take on for additional work at this time?
  2. We all know tax season is a busy time of year, how do you supplement your workload?
  3. Will you need any ongoing items from me in order for you to be successful in your job?
  4. What tasks do you expect me to do on my end?
  5. What is your fee structure? Do you charge hourly, monthly, annually?
  6. Based on what I have explained to you about my business needs, what do you estimate the cost of services to be?
  7. Are there any particular ways you can help me save money on taxes?
  8. Do you require a signed a contract/agreement if we decide to do business together? If so, may I take it to review it first?
  9. Can you give me any client references? Accounting firms are required by law not to disclose client information. Worthtax has a strict policy and guarantee on this issue. However, with that said, it is still a question worth asking to see how the accountant handles the matter).

Should I Interview an Accountant in Person?

Since your accounting may involve all your private information, you may want to put a face behind the name before hiring someone. Not to scare you, but hiring a self-governing accountant can be, well — scary. Unless you have received a personal reference from a close family member or friend, we suggest you use extreme caution.

Therefore, your last question when you interview an accountant may be to ask if you can meet with him or her in person and where? Of course, if you meet with someone in an established office that has been around and recognized for years, such as Worthtax, you can be confident that we will be around long after your taxes are filed — year-over-year.

However, if the accountant is a self-governing entity, they most likely will meet you at a Regus Office Space building (rental office space by the hour or by the day), a coffee shop,  or a local library. You can meet them at their home office, but we don’t suggest that. However if you feel you must, do so at your own risk. At the very least exercise caution if you do that. Tell a family member or friend the address to where you are going and give them the name and phone number to the person you are meeting. Also, tell them if they don’t hear from you in 1 hour, call you to make sure you are safe.

Do You Need to Interview an Accountant?

So, why not test these questions out by calling Alex Franch Alex Franch, BS EA at 781.849.7200? Alex has over a decade of personal experience reviewing and filing various accounting work, including real estate. We can tell tell you all the great things about Alex Franch, and his experience. But he welcomes your phone call so you can talk and discuss your business needs and how WorthTax can optimize your business returns. Oh, and Worthtax has locations in Quincy, Weymouth and Dedham.

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