24 May How to change accountants – the step by step guide from a NJ CPA!
How to change accountants – the step by step guide from a CPA.
One of the most common inquiries I get from potential clients is how to change accountants when you are unhappy with their services.
Clients feel loyal & committed to their accountant. They believe their accountant has all their information and the thought of recreating all that information with a new accountant sounds costly and difficult. Furthermore, we understand clients tell their accountants their most trusted and personal information. Their accountant knows their financial situation and this must mean they are an important counterpart to have and keep for that annual tax return visit and preparation.
I’m here to bust that myth!
It’s not really that hard to change accountants… In fact, it’s a very simple exercise!
Before you make any solid decisions I highly recommend you think about what it is you need in an accountant first. This often starts with knowing what you don’t like about your current accountant. We also strongly suggest that you give your current accountant the opportunity to know where there has been a shortfall in your relationship in the past that has led you to seek change.
So how do you know what you need if you haven’t been receiving it?
Here are some ideas things to think about:
• Phone calls returned within 24 hours
• Phone or email contact with your accountant when you need it
• A team that know you and your business
• Visits more than once per year
• Business development and support advice
• Tax Planning
• Retirement planning
• Fixed fee and value based proposition
• Holistic approach to your financial affairs
When you know what it is you need from an accountant then we suggest you ask around for a recommendation. Do your own research and then go and interview your top 2 or 3 accountants and quiz them on how they are going to meet your needs and support your business. It is a good idea at this point to research your accountant online, look at online reviews from customers, and make sure their credentials are in place. It is important to keep in mind that not all accountants are taking on new clients so make sure you ask them at the onset.
When you have chosen the best-matched accountant and accounting firm for you then it is a very simple process. It often follows a pattern similar to these steps:
1. You engage your new accountant formally by way of letter and agreement for services, perhaps even a fixed price agreement
2. You may like to let your current accountant know of your intentions yourself, alternatively, the new accountant will send an ‘Ethical letter of takeover’
3. Your files and information are couriered from your old accountant to your new one
4. You are established on your new accountant’s system
5. The first meeting for direction and planning takes place if applicable
6. Your new relationship to success begins!
A common scenario for how to change your accountant!
Q. I am becoming concerned about the lack of advice I get from my accountant and also believe I am not getting value for money. I would like to change but am worried about how to do it and what difficulties will be caused as a result of switching.
The most common complaints about accountants are:
• I can never get them when I need to,
• They don’t return phone calls, and
• They never recommend how to improve things.
Unfortunately for many small business owners, they have taken on a tax agent rather than an accountant. Tax agents are always looking back, processing information necessary to complete a tax return. Accountants on the other hand, in addition to the numbers crunching, are also looking forward and assisting their clients to manage the tax and financial side of their business.
The concern you have about how to change accountants is a common one. Too often people believe that their tax and financial matters are so complicated that it would be hard for another accountant to take over their affairs. Nothing could be further than the truth.
As part of taking on a new client, an accountant would receive the most recent tax returns and financial statements prepared by the previous accountant. After reviewing the tax returns and the financial statements, and asking questions about matters that may be unique or peculiar to the business, the new accountant should know enough about the business to look after it and the business owners.