How do you know when to change your accountant? Let me make this simple:
- Not responsive
- Not scaling with your business
- Not proactive
- Not providing R.O.I.
Now that tax season is over, it’s a good time to consider your relationship with your CPA. You’ve had plenty of contact with them over the last few months, so you have insight into how they work with your business.
Regardless of the reason, with tax filing out of the way, you should think about how satisfied you are with that relationship.
Here are four reasons to change your accountant
Small business owners hold onto CPAs long past when it’s time to switch. A 2019 study from Onpay found that nearly 4 in 10 small business owners aren’t happy with the services their accountant provides.¹
You’re looking for a business partner, not a bean counter. If you feel neglected, don’t hesitate to fire your CPA and find one you can build lasting success with.
Here are four signs that you need a new accountant, along with some advice on how to make the switch.
Reason #1: Your CPA is not responsive
It should not be difficult to reach your CPA. If you find yourself constantly leaving unanswered messages, you need to seek out someone who will be more attentive to your concerns.
Yes, accountants often have a lot on their plate, but they should be available. Your business prospects can change in the blink of an eye — it’s not feasible for you to wait days on end for much-needed strategic advice. If your CPA is overloaded with work, it’s time to find a new one.
This isn’t just my opinion: A 2018 study from Accounting Today found that 74% of small business owners want an accountant who will respond quickly to their needs.² Know that if you aren’t working with a responsive CPA, your competition is.
Reason #2: You’ve outgrown your CPA
Sometimes you outgrow your accountant. As a small business owner, you need to be ambitious and that ambition isn’t always shared by your CPA.
Signs you’ve outgrown your accountant are:
- They don’t have actionable advice for growth.
- They make filing mistakes due to complexity.
- They aren’t using all available technology. (Forecasters expect maximizing existing software will play a key role in the next few years.)³
It’s great to find someone you like working with, but if they specialize in helping businesses with less than $500K in revenue, and you see your business as a $10 million one, you need to find a better fit.
Reason #3: Your CPA is not proactive
Your CPA needs to be proactive. A proactive CPA is driven to offer solutions that help you overcome financial obstacles and react quickly to tax updates. CPAs should be skilled at looking at historical trends and using that information to assess future opportunities.
I’ve written before about how to find a CPA that’s proactive. As I said then, a proactive CPA
- stays informed and acts on advantageous changes in the tax code;
- forms close professional relationships as part of their SOP;
- meets and collaborates with you regularly; and
- adapts to the conditions of your industry.
Ensure your accountant meets these standards. Remember, a CPA license is not a guarantee that a firm will serve its clients well.
Reason #4: You’re not getting a positive return on investment
Many business owners think of a CPA as the person who fills out their taxes and keeps them in compliance. A quality CPA does much more.
Your CPA should provide a return on your investment. Part of that return comes from finding tax credits and deductions that your business is eligible for and positioning your financials to maximize savings.
If your business isn’t growing, and your CPA isn’t actively involved in changing that trajectory, it’s time to find a new one.
A good CPA can double or triple their cost over time. At a minimum, a CPA’s value should surpass their cost.
Another way to put it: You should change accountants if you’re paying too much. It’s that simple.
Consider a change of accountants shortly after tax season
Problems become apparent when you’re working closest with your CPA in February and March as you complete your taxes. That’s when you can see whether the relationship is strong or weak.
But in most situations, you don’t want to make a switch right before filing — that can lead to even more problems. Starting in the late spring, you have a window to find a new CPA without disruptions. Use it.
Switching before tax season gives your new CPA time to position your business for savings
First, changing accountants in May or June gives you time to meet in person and select someone you’re comfortable with. A face-to-face meeting is necessary to give you a sense of how well you work together.
Once you’ve chosen a new CPA, you’ll still have plenty of time before the next tax season to claim every available tax credit and deduction and strategize for other growth opportunities.
Let’s unleash your potential for growth
If you’re not satisfied with your accountant, let’s talk.
We are a responsive, cost-effective, proactive, and ambitious accounting firm based in Fort Worth that will help you lower your tax liability and grow your business.
Schedule a discovery call with us today.
Jeremy A. Johnson, CPA
- Brown E. 2019 small business finance and HR report. OnPay. 2019. Available from: https://onpay.com/hr/basics/2019-small-business-finance-hr
- Hood D. They need you – they’re just not always sure what for. Accounting Today. 2018. Available from: https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/what-small-businesses-want-from-their-accountants
- Hanover J. Sage Intacct speaks: key trends for accounting and finance for 2023. Sage Advice US. Sage; 2023. Available from: https://www.sage.com/en-us/blog/sage-intacct-speaks-key-trends-for-accounting-and-finance-for-2023/