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Questions to Ask an Accounting Firm before Working Together

The best way to find the right accountant for your company is by simply asking the right questions. Before you entrust your finances to someone outside of your company, make sure they’re the right fit and that you’ll get the support you need.

Why Should I Choose an Outside Accountant or Accounting Firm?

When your financial management becomes more fast-paced and complicated, you need help from accounting professionals. Choosing the right accountant or accounting firm becomes very important for your organization.

Besides just crunching numbers and filing taxes, professional accountants help you make the best financial decisions for your organization, given the unique accounting information from your books that they have to work with.

Choosing the right financial professional(s) will help you work toward and achieve growth milestones. With the right financial analysis, you’ll find opportunities to reduce expenses and even boost and conserve revenue. 

Besides choosing experienced, accredited accountants, it’s highly important to make sure they’re equipped to handle the specific demands of your organization. Like many professions, accountants can specialize in different skill sets and areas of accounting.

You’ll want to make sure your candidate is the right fit based on whether you’re a for-profit or nonprofit organization, since there are several significant differences in reporting and compliance for both types of companies. In addition to diligent research during your search period, you will want to engage accountants directly.

You’ll save time and find just the right partnership by knowing exactly what to look for. Here are some questions to get started:

Questions to Ask Your Accountant – For-profit Companies

Your goal as a for-profit organization is to achieve revenue increases while minimizing the costs of doing business. You’ll want an accounting firm or accountant to help you maximize your cash flow to achieve profitability. You’ll also want help managing expenses and taxes in a way that lets you prioritize business goals.

Here’s what you should ask:

  1. Are you a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and what other credentials do you hold?
    Only deal with qualified accountants. These credentials, particularly the CPA certification, indicate up-to-date knowledge of the best accounting practices. 
  2.  What service do you offer?
    Again, accountants may specialize in certain areas of accounting. Make sure the one(s) you’re engaging is equipped to meet your exact financial management needs and in a way that will allow your business to continue thriving and growing. 
  3. What is your strategy for tax preparation and filing?
    One of the greatest functions your accountant can provide is tax preparation. Besides filing and documenting your taxes, you’ll want to gauge their strategies in helping you navigate tax credits and deductions. Ask about what the exact process will look like and expectations. Besides getting the taxes done correctly, you’ll want it to be as streamlined and stress-free as possible. 
  4. How will you help my company finance growth?
    As a for-profit business, your accounting is the fuel you need to keep expanding your operation. You need to be able to keep funding your initiatives while also saving money in order to grow. Your accountants should have insight and experience in helping take customers to the next level.
  5. Can you help me with day-to-day accounting?
    Do you really want to have to manage transactions and reconciliations, do payroll, and run reports? You probably want to focus more on the actual business. Make sure your accountant has the bandwidth to do miscellaneous accounting tasks if you need them, in addition to higher-level service offerings.
  6. Can you help me with financial compliance?
    For-profit companies are subject to federal and industrial reporting standards such as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Make sure your accountant can help you meet the specific accounting regulations you need to follow. 
  7. What’s the accounting technology you’re using?  
    Digital accounting is faster, more accurate, and easier to manage than ever before. Make sure your accountant is up-to-date not only on the latest best practices but also using software that will deliver you faster, more effective financial management.

Questions to Ask Your Accountant – Nonprofits

As a nonprofit, you face an entirely different set of accounting rules and objectives. While you’ll want to ask many of the same questions as a for-profit would, you’ll want to address the specialized nonprofit accounting needs of your mission.

Here are more questions to ask your accountant to ensure they are the right fit for nonprofit work: 

1. Do you specialize in non-profit accounting?
Right from the start, ask your accountant if they are experienced and knowledgeable of the needs of managing non-profit finances. Remember, incorrect accounting can not only harm your funding but potentially your reputation. 

2. Can you provide fund accounting for our nonprofit programs?
Fund accounting allows you to track and manage the income, expenses, and progress for multiple programs and operational needs. This is critical, both for achieving mission goals and reporting. Make sure that your prospective accountant(s) can deliver reliable fund accounting to meet objectives. 

3. Will you help my nonprofit with tax-exempt reporting compliance?
Your financial professional should be able to take the pressure off meeting compliance regulations. See if they will help you complete the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 501(c)(3) 990 tax-exempt form and other tax paperwork. They should also be able to help you with reporting and financial documentation to meet all nonprofit requirements. 

4. Can you help my nonprofit with grant and donation management?
Donations and grants are major sources of funding for your nonprofit. Ask how an accountant will help you manage this income and advise you on how to use them effectively. 

5. How will you help my non-profit grow and thrive?
Even nonprofits need to make revenue to survive and grow. Like for-profits, you should ask how your accountant will advise you and help you strategize for growth. Ask if they provide financial analysis and what their plan will be to help you become more productive, stable, and successful through accounting. 

Aways: Ask for References

No matter what kind of business you have, always ask for references. You need to assess whether your accountant’s claims are legitimate and gauge whether their methodologies will work for you.

Look at their website to see what they offer, as well as gauge their professionalism. You may also see customer success stories that will further validate the effectiveness of their service.

Your accountant should be transparent and gladly provide references and examples of their work. If they don’t, this is a sign to look elsewhere.

Temple’s ready to answer all your questions and serve all your accounting needs!

At Temple Management, we provide a full complement of accounting services and are prepared to meet any and all of your financial needs. Our team of CPAs specializes in both for-profit and nonprofit accounting! Reach out to us for a free consultation and use these questions to “put us to the test!


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