As Independence Day approaches, we often think of the founding of our nation, and all those who sacrificed and paved the way for us to live in this great country. The United States had a new beginning and a fresh start, and the rest is, yes, history – the continuing history of the Great American Experiment in Democracy.
This year as you reflect on our nation’s history and celebrate it with family and friends, it might also present an opportunity to seek another type of independence. The chance to find a new accounting firm to meet your audit, accounting and tax needs and partner with you to help you grow.
A Good Accountant Should Be…
- Client-focused: A client-focused accountant is always looking for ideas to improve your operations and business. You can gauge this willingness to help and their overall ethics by asking other professional service providers such as commercial lenders about an accountant’s reputation in this regard.
- Personable: Although the “accountant’s stereotype” is often someone stuck behind paperwork crunching numbers on a calculator, your accountant should be personable and friendly. While the process of auditing and accounting can be time-consuming and sometimes difficult, the people you work with shouldn’t have to be. Find a team that’s easy to talk to, fun and willing to answer any of your questions. Which means, they should also be willing to communicate with you often—not just during the audit, review or compilation, but also throughout the year.
- Experienced: With that said, your accountant should have experience in your industry (both from dealing with similar clients and also from their training) so that they can keep you abreast of what is happening in your business and changes in the industry. The less oriented they are with your industry, the higher the risk for audit or reporting failure.
- Aligned with a forward-thinking firm. To outline ideal characteristics of the firm-accountant-client relationship, here is a JULY 4TH acrostic:
J – J is for Joint Effort. Your business and an accounting firm should join forces and work together as a team. The discussions go both ways. Your firm should listen to your needs and provide insights, but also offer ideas on what they are seeing in the marketplace.
U – U is for Understanding. Your accounting firm should take the time and effort to understand your business. What is working well? What keeps you up at night? What needs a little tweaking and what calls for a major overhaul?
L – L is for “Like Us.” Many clients like us for our commitment to quality work, customer service and creativity, and you should feel comfortable approaching your firm with questions at any time.
Y – Y is for You and Your Company. You should feel like the firm’s most important client, regardless of your size. Your accounting firm should serve you and exceed your expectations.
4 – Four Keys to a Great Accounting Firm: (1) Knowledge; (2) Experience; (3) Involvement – your accountant should have a hands-on approach to working with you; and (4) Trust – serving as a trusted business advisor is the crucial element that cannot be taken for granted and a hallmark of Sikich.
T – T is for Tax and Technology. Technology is transforming every industry, including accounting. Tax is also a crucial part of your business’s financial vitality, so look for a seamless integration of audit, tax and technology at your next or current firm. Your firm should go to the Cloud and back to help you find ways to operate more efficiently, effectively and profitably.
H – H is for Help. Your accounting firm should want to help, and in more ways than one! Does your current firm offer advisory services geared toward helping your business grow, innovate and thrive? You may not think you need them now, but you just might need them as your business continues to grow.
This Independence Day, take a moment to turn the tables and see if your firm is meeting your standards. Do they tick all the boxes above? Or is it maybe time to consider declaring independence? If you’re still stuck in the 18th century, see if Sikich is the new land of opportunity for your business’s current and future accounting, advisory and technology needs.