While most of us are adept at handling basic financial matters, there are a number of situations in which a knowledgeable accountant comes in handy. Whether you need someone to help manage your personal investments, sort out your taxes, or set up the books for your new business venture, hiring on a qualified accountant can be a huge asset. But how do you know which type of accountant you need, and where can you find a good one in your local area? Read on to find out.
Identifying Your Needs
Because there are several branches of accounting, finding the right accountant for you begins with identifying your financial needs. As the name suggests, a tax accountant will help you file a complicated tax return, while a financial planner will help you handle everything from cash flow management to retirement planning and investment planning. If you’re starting up your very own small business, you’ll likely require the services of a certified public accountant (CPA). Those working for bigger companies and organizations may require the expertise of a financial accountant or a management accountant.
Finding an Accountant that Fits the Bill
Once you’ve identified your needs, start asking for referrals from family, friends, or professional contacts that have the same financial needs as you. Their insight will prove to be an invaluable resource in the search process, as they’ll be able to give you first-hand information about the accountant’s fees and general work ethic.
Those looking for a CPA or other business accountant may consult the American Institute of CPAs’ directory or get referrals from their local Chamber of Commerce. Those looking for a tax accountant may consider calling a local retail tax franchise like H&R Block or Liberty Tax Service or finding an enrolled agent through the NAEA website. Be sure to do a business background check and ask for client references from every accountant you are considering, as you will be entrusting this person with your most important financial matters. Don’t be afraid to ask potential accountants specific questions about their education, experience, and professional memberships to help you make a more informed decision. Remember that a good accountant should have plenty of questions to ask you about your financial needs as well.
Establishing a good relationship with your accountant may reap many long-term benefits for you and/or your business. Even if you only meet with your accountant a few times each year, they should be willing to keep you apprised of new legislation that affects your personal and professional financial records. Of course, the services of a good accountant are rarely cheap, so try selling video games over the internet to earn some extra cash to pay their fees.