There are a number of individuals and businesses who use the services of an accountant year round. There are other individuals who only hire an accountant to help get all of their finances in order before their tax returns are due. View any directory of accountants in any major metropolitan area and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of accountants listed.
Surprisingly, most business owners and individuals don’t carefully consider matching their needs to an accountant’s qualifications when making a selection. That’s because many of us who don’t have a strong accounting background view all accountants as being equal.
But the reality is that all accountants are not created equal….and the same goes for Miami Accountants as well.
An accountant, technically speaking, is a professional who takes care of the accounting needs of an individual or a business, including bookkeeping, tax preparation, financial advice, and more. Choosing an accountant is a highly individual process, as everyone has different needs.
This article explains how miami accountanting firms can help you conquer business finances and provide useful questions you should use to choose an accountant that best matches your needs and can help you prosper — and not somebody who just crunches the numbers.
What do accountants do anyway? How can an accountant help me?
Skilled accountants are highly trained and specialized to recognize data interrelationships and identify trends, amounts, and other relationships that just “look” incorrect. This analysis also includes the clear absence of missing information and the ability to recognize cost or tax savings measures that may have been otherwise overlooked or misinterpreted.
Experienced accountants have also been trained to methodically choose and apply selective analysis to financial data with an acute attention to detail.
Some small businesses make due with a bookkeeper – someone to perform the tedious task of recording financial information and cranking that data into the necessary formats, like P&L statements and tax forms. But a good small business accountant does much more than just record transactions and passively generate documents – they actively analyze, interpret and convert that data into actionable business intelligence.
How do I choose an accountant that best matches your needs?
Perhaps the most fundamental consideration in choosing an accountant, or accounting firm, is to choose one that best suits the needs of the individual business.
When hiring an accountant, you’re choosing an individual or group that provides you with the requisite expertise that you do not hold. Therefore, your accountant should be adequately experienced and educated in the areas that are most applicable to your needs.
It’s not so uncommon that some people who offer “accounting services” are unqualified. They are unlikely to carry any liability insurance, nor is there any supervisory body you can complain to if things go wrong. The apparent savings in fees, if any, could prove costly.
Accountants who are certified are subject to wide variety of knowledge, experience and ethics requirements, unparalleled by most any other regulated industry. Certified accountants are required to have attended and successfully completed rigorous, higher-level education and/or experience requirements in addition to passing an examination indicating the same. Certified accountants are required to complete certain continuing professional education requirements on an ongoing basis. The purpose of this standard is to help ensure the accountant remains knowledgeable with changing laws, regulations, interpretations and technological advancements.
Experience considerations are of the utmost importance. Accountants practicing “public” accounting have the largest breadth of exposure to various industries, businesses, and persons with unique needs. Public accountants are acutely trained to be able to gather, sort and interpret large volumes of information in very short time periods. Choosing an accountant with prior industry or project experience, can help you save time, money or even the avoidance of costly mistakes. Choose an accountant that has demonstrated an advanced knowledge of specific areas that may be applicable to you.
Step by Step Questions When Choosing an Accountant
Determine what your specific needs are. Do you need an accountant for your business or for your personal finances? Do you need to create a budget, need help with financial planning, need financial records kept, or do you just want someone who will prepare your taxes? Accountants and accounting firms often have specialties, and they all have their own strengths, so make sure you know what you are looking for.
Get personal recommendations. If you have a friend or a relative who loves her accountant, ask her about it! It is best to find someone who is in a position similar to yours (who is happy with her accountant).
Speak personally with the accountants. After you have recommendations, speak with the accountant or accountants that interest you. Explain what you are looking for and ask any questions that you might have. Watch and listen for clear, direct answers and make sure you feel comfortable with the accountant. Feel free to ask about credentials and experience – most accountants will be happy to provide that information.
Determine how much it will cost. As with many professional services, cheapest is not necessarily best when it comes to accountants! On the other hand, you don’t want to be overcharged. Do a little comparative shopping to make sure that the fees seem to be within an acceptable range.
Consider your feelings. It may sound silly to involve feelings in a business or financial decision, but if you are working with someone, especially someone who will be working with your money, you want to feel secure and comfortable. If you are uncomfortable with the accountant for any reason, choose a different one. Get a timeline. Make sure you talk to the prospective accountant about when you need things done. If you are on a tight deadline for tax season, make sure that he or she can meet that deadline. You need to make sure that the accountant you choose can give you the time that you need!
Does Your Accountants Proximity to Your Business Really Matter? Why Choose a Miami Accountant?
As the accountants’ relationship with clients often requires a continuous, ongoing exchange, it is important to choose an accountant that is easily accessible. However, due to recent technological advancements of communications, desktop sharing and remote access, accountants can more easily exchange information that previously required a physical presence that is no longer applicable.
Miami is a city that provides a wide variety of interests and cultural backgrounds. The majority of its residents are fluent in more than one language. It is probably the best known gateway in the United States to Latin America and South American businesses, European nationals and foreign investors doing business in the United States.
Accordingly, the business acumen of Miami accountants is to generally hold a higher level of knowledge and experience with respect to foreign businesses wanting to have a U.S. presence, foreign real estate and business investors.
Applicable knowledge and skills of Miami accountants will often include more complex taxation reporting requirements, currency translation, business capitalization techniques, choosing entity structures most beneficial to foreign owners, and more complex tax reporting as it relates to foreign investors and owners.
Given the current and ever changing state of technological advancements, ability to communicate fluently in foreign languages, improved knowledge and expertise of accountants of tax matters as it relates to foreign ownership, the demand for certified accountants in cities such as Miami is on the rise.
Mitch Helfer is an experienced miami accountant with the skills necessary to get your company on track financially. Learn more about one of the top miami accounting firms by visiting cpamiami.com.