We Interviewed 3 CPAs on Why Having a Trusted CPA Is Vital to your Business Before Tax Season
With the new year come and gone, it’s time for business owners to start thinking about getting their taxes and finances in line with their CPAs and accounting firms. Being that our motto this year has been “Together we are stronger,” which importantly includes our business network, we thought it would be beneficial to bring a few of our friends in the accounting industry together to discuss what to consider before the busy tax season.
Overall, the message that was communicated during the interviews was one resonating concept: Communication and Transparency. In order for an accountant to perform their tasks, documentation and strategy must be communicated so accountants can conduct an accurate analysis and make recommendations based on that analysis.
I was personally impressed with each of their passion for education and commitment to clients through both troubling and happy times. With the series of events in recent times, I never thought I would find inspiration and hope from interviewing an accountant! I hope that you find as much value and information from this blog post as I did from interviewing our good friends in the accounting industry.
It is my pleasure to introduce our friends, Jay Caswell with Two Good Accountants, Heide Olson with All In One Accounting, and Blaine Andersen with BWK Accounting. All three of these firms work with similar size companies as Evolve Payment, and we thought it would be best to conduct these interviews before their busy season in March and April.
As a CPA, what do you wish your customer knew when asking for recommendations?
The most frequent question that I ask my clients before providing my services is inquiring about their cash flow statements and having them prepared ahead of time; a portion of our industry is consulting time, and the dollars invested into asking for documents and the clients trying to find documents can be a considerable amount of time.
I think it would be beneficial to any business to have their documents and cash flow strategies/plans, or at least an idea of those plans, to be created before sitting down with their accountant. From my experience, we have seen that October is the right time to start thinking about the following year for tax planning, and a good accountant should help curate your cash plan. Budget your time accordingly and know that it takes an average business 60 days to get projections in line.
Last, a good accountant will provide a good plan that is easy to understand so every person can easily interpret the information. Find a partner that is balanced and can speak plainly. No need for someone to talk above you when trying to help your business.
Actually understanding what accounting firms do for businesses in regards to all of their services, not just accounting and tax prep. I wish businesses would walk into the conversation and understand what their pain points are before I dive into the work. There can be a lot of time saved when we are able to have transparent communication regarding things that accountants will eventually find.
I think it’s important for businesses to remember that the relationship will not be beneficial if a business only sees the accountant as a compliance check and something they “have to do” instead of being a true business partner.
One of the best questions I have been asked by my clients is, “How can we help you, help us”. By asking that question, it allows more transparent conversations about services and the ability to lay things out on the table to communicate the true needs, not just the basic services to be implemented. Being partners with your accountant is much more than just conversations about tax returns and audits.
I also wish clients knew to ask, “Who do you partner with and who do you trust? What are some out of the box ways you have helped your clients?” Don’t be afraid to ask questions that aren’t necessarily about accounting. CPAs are well rounded with other resources and have the time to attend events to learn more about business in general, that you as a business owner don’t always have the time to attend. Think of us as a resource for your business, not just your spreadsheets.
How can CPA clients help you to help them save money?
It is important to continually review your fees in your accounting system so that they can be easily quantified and analyzed. One of the common discrepancies that we find is when bookkeepers bury fees and costs in your profit and loss statements netting them against revenue so that they are more difficult to find. Fees should be viewed as a separate line item and be analyzed for continuity and transparency. If you have a partner that is trying to bury their fees, think about why they might want to do that instead of being transparent.
Sometimes accountants become the defacto CFO for some companies and can be of assistance in many different ways to save money. It is expensive to hire a full-time CFO, so make sure to communicate with your accountant what your expectations are and change the view of your accountant from client to provider to friend to friend.
Have your accountants talk to you about your other issues. They have resources that they are more than happy to share. A perfect example of this is a client and I were putting together an action plan on how to save money by implementing different business practices, not even related to accounting and finance. We were able to have an open and honest discussion about their needs resulting in an action plan on how best to improve the business, not just their statements.
How to best equip your CPA before an audit?
AVOID AUDITS AT ALL COST! Typically an audit is used to make sure a business is operating correctly and is conducted by someone who you don’t normally want to be investigating your business. Instead, work with someone who you trust to complete a review engagement instead of conducting an audit.
A review is much less robust and looks under the hood to confirm that you are doing the right thing; a review determines the quality of the books rather than going in for surgery. Overall, it is much less of a cost for the business. Ask your engagement partner for the checklist for what they are looking for before the inspection so you are able to understand how intrusive the inspection will be.
Having more communication throughout the year. Every business has events throughout the year that require more attention from CPAs, either positive or negative. It’s not the accountants’ job to place judgment on the success or failure of the business during those events, we are there to help keep you documented and identify how to help get out of the rut or keep your business flourishing.
When clients become non-responsive, there is less flexibility in providing value versus performing activities. The value of having us work with you isn’t as impactful when we can’t help you make business decisions but rather are reacting to situations. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give your CPA a call even if you believe it’s “negative” because to accountants it’s not negative, it’s simply business; we are great at disassociating between personal and business- it’s all about trust.
Why should you review your merchant processing statements with your CPA?
Your CPA can analyze fees as a percentage of revenue and advise you on the overall reasonableness of the cost. Not all merchant service providers are created equally. You need to establish a trusted relationship with a provider that is transparent about different options and rates with the willingness to educate so you can make the best decision for your business.
The other reason why you should review your rates with your CPA is simply due to the fact that the “best possible” merchant processing rate that the provider is offering may not be the best rate that other providers can offer. Have your CPA be your backbone and someone to lean on when making business decisions.
Look at your statement, ask for a full deck of what you are paying for each month, and engage with your provider so that you can understand all of the fees that you are paying. Once you understand what you are actually paying for, you will be able to understand the value of what you are paying for. In some certain circumstances, depending on your industry, you may be paying a higher rate but the question is, are you receiving a higher value?
Think of merchant processing as a standard fee that you need to think of as a cost of doing business. Sometimes it can be a resource for collecting payments. How much would you be willing to spend to have your clients pay you immediately instead of making late payments?
Be aware of the cost of merchant processing, but also the quality of services. As a business owner, you cannot afford to focus on only the “low cost leader” but having solutions that work for you. Sometimes you may need to onboard a processor that has a slightly higher fee in order to have a solution that directly plugs into your ERP system.
Look at merchant processing as an area of opportunity to not only grow the business but also help keep your employees engaged with better software. If you find an opportunity to improve the way you accept payments, your team members will see that you value the work they do and will continue to do great work for the company.
Additionally, when selling your business, make sure to review and see how best you can keep as much money in your profit statements as possible. If you don’t allow credit cards, you could be hurting your business by not diversifying the way you accept payments, especially from clients that haven’t paid you. Cashflow is vital to the success of your business, don’t let your software be a barrier.
There is a lot of passion for service found in these three excellent service providers; we are happy to call them friends.
If you would like to get in touch with these accountants who trust and value their partnership with Evolve Payment, feel free to reach out to our team and we would be happy to make an introduction.
If you are looking for a value-based partnership for your merchant processing needs that drives ROI and ROT (return on time) for your company, get in touch with Evolve Payment to find how your business can benefit from working with a merchant processing partner.