Are you thinking about hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) but not sure where to look or who to ask? A CPA can help both individuals and businesses with everything from preparing tax returns to answering any financial questions that affect them. CPAs can ultimately save you time and money with their expertise. Some reject hiring a CPA because of the cost, and feel they can use a computer program for tax preparation instead. In an ever changing regulatory environment, staying up on all the laws and regulations has become difficult (and computer programs can’t interpret the law or offer savings strategies). The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a perfect example. Do you know how the wide sweeping tax reform will affect you?

Below are considerations to make when hiring a CPA:

Experience. Your top priority is to hire a CPA that is experienced in the area in which you need assistance. How do you find out if a particular CPA has any experience matching your needs? A great resource is checking with your states CPA society. They have a list of members. This helps to know who is actively in business, and that ongoing education and connection to others in the industry is important to them. Another way is to ask for referrals from family and friends. Find out who they are using and who they are happy with. You can also explore online. Checking the referral sources online will give insight into their background and experience level. Contact a couple that you have found and ask them to explain their professional experience, and how it pertains to your circumstances. You will get immediate feedback to whether you connect with their personality and if you feel confident in their abilities. The Ketel Thorstenson partner group has over 380 years of combined experience to assist clients with the answers and solutions they need.

Education. CPAs must meet a minimum level of education, taking tests to prove their knowledge. They also have continuing professional education requirements. Ask your prospective CPA about their education and continual learning. At Ketel Thorstenson (KTLLP) tax time is all the time. The KTLLP team is studying all year long not just boning up prior to tax season.

Communication. You don’t have to be friends with the people you hire, but you need to feel comfortable asking questions and requesting help when necessary. If you don’t feel that you can develop a good working relationship with a particular person, move on to somebody else. In mid-size and larger firms, you can get introductions to other partners or managers whose personalities you may click with better. Don’t be afraid to ask, know that they want you to be comfortable first and foremost. If you don’t get that sense then move on. At Ketel Thorstenson, our motto is “Friends for Life” and we say that because our clients truly become friends. The relationship with your CPA is very close and personal, much like the relationship with your doctor. It just happens to be dealing with your financial health instead of your personal health.

Compare. You have heard the saying…“You get what you pay for?” Make sure you compare the level of expertise versus the cost of a few professionals before you make a hiring decision. You will find that is difficult for the “one person CPA/company” to have expertise across the board and knowledge in all industries. Firms with multiple partners can offer broader knowledge and resources for typically no additional charge. Ask yourself if the CPA and their firm can help with your current and potential circumstances.

Before you make a final selection, interview at least two CPAs. Be sure to ask for references. This is a good way to learn more, before hiring them to work for you. If you have additional questions about choosing a CPA, anything accounting or tax preparation related, the professionals at Ketel Thorstenson are here to help. Ketel Thorstenson is always accepting new clients. We would be honored if you included us in your interview search. Call us at 605-342-5630.