Hiring the Right Firm: What to Consider When Choosing a Trusted CPA Partner

Beginning the search for a CPA firm is often daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Since firms come in a variety of shapes, sizes and expertise, the first step in finding a trusted partner is to determine why you or your organization needs assistance, and then consider if the timing is right.

Once you understand your needs, it’s easier to narrow your search and focus on the following factors:

  • Industry Expertise – There is no “one size fits all” CPA firm, and it’s important to identify ones that focus on your industry or specific need. For example, a firm with significant manufacturing experience will not provide the best insight for a nonprofit, and vice-versa. A firm with distinguished expertise will be able to dedicate time, resources and knowledge to best serve your needs.
  • Communication – At the beginning of the professional relationship, you need to know how the firm typically communicates with clients and determine if this fits with your expectations and needs. Will you have a consistent point of contact? Will you meet in-person or virtually? What is the typical response time? These are just a few questions to consider when evaluating a potential partner.
  • Size and Services – CPA firms range from sole proprietors to international giants and can offer a variety of services from basic tax returns to complex consulting. Consider whether you would be comfortable with a large, well-known firm or if you would prefer the personal touch of a small to mid-sized team. Regardless of size, it’s crucial to ensure that the firm you choose provides the right mix of services to meet your needs.
  • Fees – Does the firm typically charge by the hour, and if so, do they have the depth of staff to serve your needs at the appropriate level? Do they incorporate fixed fee engagements or work on retainer? Do they provide fee estimates and communicate potential overages? Some firms provide a variety of fee structures, so it’s important to ask these questions upfront to ensure the relationship is beneficial for both parties.

Get started by reaching out to your industry network to identify CPA firms who might be a good fit for your organization. Also, always ask for client references to gather candid feedback and interview the firm to get a feel for its culture.

Choosing a CPA firm is a strategic decision and taking the time to research and make an informed choice will result in a successful, trusted relationship. If you have questions or would like to learn more about how SST could serve you or your organization, click here.