You trust your business accountant or CPA with some highly important aspects of your business. Yet, you might only talk to them once a year–if ever. Did you meet with them to discuss tax season this year? Or did you just drop off your documents? Or did all of this simply take place through email? Maybe you only interacted with a customer service person, who passed along your information to your CPA themselves.
On the other hand, let’s say you had an actual meeting with your accountant this year. What did you take away from it? Did you learn anything new, or was it just a hand-off of another task on your to-do list?
In this article, we’ll encourage you to take a look at your current relationship with your tax accountant and discover how it could be more fruitful.
A CPA vs. a Business Advisor
Many business owners seek out a CPA when it is time to file the previous year’s taxes. A CPA is an accountant who has passed the rigorous, 16-hour exam required to earn that designation. You might also work with an EA, who carries the highest credential awarded by the IRS.
Either way, a large part of this professional’s job is tax planning and preparation. As you can imagine, they get extremely busy around March and April each year. That is, in part, because many clients only talk to them during that critical time of year. However, they are capable of providing a wide range of financial advice, all year.
We believe, to lead your business to its fullest potential, the person handling your taxes should be a business advisor. Either a CPA or an EA, or a team of accounting professionals, can provide business advisory services. These services extend well beyond tax preparation to enable the success and future growth of your business.
What a Business Advisory Relationship Should Look Like
Regardless of your industry or business size, financial planning sets you up for success. If your company is not large enough to warrant having a CFO on staff, you will need to seek that skill set elsewhere.
You and your business advisor should keep tax planning in mind all year. He or she should inform you about any opportunities to reduce taxes owed, along with what expenses to track all year, how to structure your payroll, and what to withhold or set aside in preparation for next year’s bill.
Even if your tax bill is already the lowest it can be, a smart business advisor may find ways to increase your value or your profits. Talk about any and all financial matters, like investments, succession planning, insurance, etc. In a productive business advisory relationship, you should feel able to ask for any clarification you need. You are an expert in your business, so don’t feel you have to be an expert in financial planning, too.
Signs of a Fruitful Business Advisor Relationship
Thinking back to your last conversation with your tax accountant, ask yourself these questions.
- Was in a format you were comfortable with–whether that was in person, over video, or on the phone?
- Did they seem familiar with your business and your situation?
- Did you walk away with some new piece of knowledge or understanding?
- Do you feel that you’re in a better place financially than you were a year ago?
- Did you talk about when you would meet next?
As you think through your answers, you should gain a clearer picture of what you need from a business advisor. It is our aim to educate businesses in Clearwater and the surrounding community so that we all succeed. If it’s time to move on from your current CPA, give us a call today!