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Small Business Guide to Hiring an Accountant

Posted by Roger Pierce Posted on 27 Aug 2018

What to look for when you hire your most important business advisor

An accountant is the most important supplier to your business. So selecting one should be done with great care and without rushing.

A great accountant can save your business money, identify revenue opportunities, reduce your stress and make your life a whole lot easier. A poor choice for accountant may end up costing your business money with mistakes and poor advice.

Follow these tips to find your ideal accountant.

1. Determine the level of service you require

You want an accountant who can meet the needs of your particular business. Consider these questions:

  • Will you do the bookkeeping, and hand files to your accountant to prepare year-end tax returns? Or, will you hire an independent bookkeeper to manage your monthly record-keeping in house, and file routine government paperwork?

  • Would you prefer your accountant handle it all? That level of service may affect price, but you may end up paying less money than you would by hiring a separate bookkeeper.

  • Do you want to meet with your accountant throughout the year to obtain business advice?

Focusing on what’s most important to your company will help you narrow the field so that you can get on with your accountant search.

2. Pay extra for long-term tax reducing strategies

A good accountant will find deductions to lower the amount of tax payable in a given year. A great accountant will develop tax-reducing strategies to save your business money for many years ahead. Expect to pay more for the latter service.

3. The right kind of industry experience

Every accountant will be familiar with standard business expense deductions (like rent, payroll and utilities). But your ideal accountant should be aware of tax credits that are geared towards your industry or type of business. For example, a transport company will prefer to work with an accountant who understands their particular industry.

4. Terrific business references

Don’t be shy about asking for references from your short list of accountants. Speak to an accountant’s past and current clients to understand the experiences of other business owners.

And pay attention to your own first impression – you’ll be working closely with your accountant, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the individual or firm you choose.

5. Make sure you can afford to pay your accountant

Expertise comes at a price – so be sure to understand how much your accountant will charge for:

  • Year-end returns

  • Bookkeeping services (unless you do the books yourself or hire a bookkeeper)

  • Business consultation & advice throughout the year

  • Tax planning.

Tip: Ask your accountant to invoice your business monthly to avoid paying a big invoice at tax time.

It can take time and some effort to find the right accountant for your business. Start your search long before you need one so you aren’t rushed into making a decision. And if you need help finding an accountant, ask your banker, lawyer and other business owners for referrals.


The content provided within this site is for general information purposes only, and should not be used or construed as a substitute for consultation with qualified professional advisors.

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