How to Choose Certified Public Accountant to lift the financial burden?

By: Garrett A. Surles

Death and taxes are the two certainties of life, as the saying goes. When it comes to financial and tax aspects of life, some individuals and businesses in Memphis may want to hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to lift the burden. Not only does it alleviate the stress of handling it yourself, but using a professional CPA can also lead to business growth opportunities. For example, they know the intimate details of your financials and can help you utilize the knowledge to develop cost cutting strategies. Finding the right match, however, can seem overwhelming. In light of this, here is a list of things to consider when selecting the right CPA firm for your needs in the Greater Memphis Area.

1. Determine What You Need
To set the stage for a successful search, take inventory on what your needs and priorities are. A general accounting firm will cover four basic areas of expertise: accounting and record-keeping, tax advice and preparation, auditing, and business advisory services. These four areas tend to overlap with one another. For example, if your accountant is helping you prepare the financial statements you need for a loan, and he or she gives you some insights into how certain estimates could be recalculated to get a more favorable review, the accountant is crossing the line from auditing into business advisory services.So determining what kinds of services you need in priority order, and what you do not need, will help guide your search. Ask yourself a few of the following questions:
- Do you need them for once a year at tax season? Or regular assistance?
- Is your business growing? Do you want it to grow?
- Do you need bookkeeping?
- Do you need management consulting?
- Do you need estate planning?
- What kinds of other services do you need? What is the priority order of those services?

2. Seek the Right Kind of Experience
Look for experience that matches your needs. If a CPA specializes in individual tax returns, they may not be the best match if you need help with your business. This also pertains to looking at the industry experience. If your business is in retail, youíll want to find someone that has worked a lot with clients in retail rather than someone who specializes in helping rural and agricultural clients. How do you find out if the Memphis firm has the right industry or level of experience you need? Simply ask.

3. Personality and Communication
Look for a Memphis CPA that you are comfortable communicating with regularly. Business relationships should be happy and if you donít have a CPA that you donít feel comfortable calling up and asking questions then itís not a happy relationship. You donít have to be best friends, but this firm or person will be helping with your financials and you want to keep communication flowing to stay on top of things. Remember that choosing well can help your business grow, especially if they are involved in your financial strategy and future planning. Itís actually recommended to meet with your CPA every month to review your financials and keep track of where your money is going. Communication is the key.

4. Size of the Firm
Choose what size of a firm you want based off of your needs. If youíre an individual that only needs a CPA once a year, hiring a large sized firm would be expensive and unnecessary. If you are a growing Memphis business that needs regular attention in various areas, you may want a full-dedicated team to work with.

5. Fees, Fees, and More Fees
Ask about the fees upfront. Most firms will charge by the hour but some will work with a monthly retainer. Discuss what services you will need and look for options that will be more cost-effective. Be sure to get quotes from different firms in Memphis to compare. While youíre getting these quotes, try to estimate what the total annual charges will be based on the services you discussed. Try not to base your decision solely on cost. An accountant that charges more by the hour is likely to be more experienced and work faster than a novice that charges less. There are also ways to help reduce the fees such as doing your part. Donít hand your CPA a shoebox full of crumpled receipts. The better that you maintain your records, the less time they have to spend filtering through and the less they have to charge you.

6. Certifications and Licenses
Evaluate the certification and licenses the firm and its employees have. Tax preparation firms hire and train tax preparers to assist the public in filing income taxes, but these firms canít offer in-depth advice to small businesses. In general, the greater your accounting needs, the more youíll benefit from a general Memphis accounting firm that employs CPAs. A CPA has to pass a rigorous two-day, nationally standardized test to receive that title so donít underestimate their importance and knowledge.

7. Audit Support
Look for a Memphis firm that will provide audit support if the situation calls for it. A professional tax preparer should stand by her tax return and represent you in the unlikely case you are audited.Itís a real red flag if he or she is reluctant to engage on this issue.

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Garrett Surles CPA Firm is located in Memphis, TN. The firm offers valuable financial, accounting and tax preparation services to clients in the area. They provide peace of mind to their clients by creating strategies that maximize profitability, efficiency and security. Contact Garrett Surles CPA Firm at 901-201-6115, email [email protected] or visit their website: .

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