What questions should I ask when interviewing a potential accountant?


5

We formed our LLC a few months back. We're developing a software product and we're planning to launch a very small private beta test in about a month. I'll be doing our bookkeeping, but I need help setting up. I'm looking for an accountant to help me set up our books, help with end year tax stuff, and anything else that comes up through out the year. I'd like to meet and interview someone before making a decision to trust them with our finances.

What questions should I ask potential accountants when interviewing them?

Here are a few I've come up with:

  1. Do you have any certifications? ex. CPA
  2. What are your rates? How do you charge, by the hour, by the service, both?
  3. How long have you been practicing?
  4. How much experience do you have working with small businesses and/or startups?
  5. How busy are you? How much time will you be able to dedicate to me?
  6. How much experience do you have working with LLCs?

LLC Accountants

asked May 27 '10 at 12:48
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Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points
  • How did you finally choose your accountant? I'm currently looking for one in the state of Delaware. – Rochb 8 years ago
  • @rochb: I interviewed 4 different accountants - 3 were referrals, and 1 I just found. It turned out that the answers to the questions weren't really all that important. I got similar answers for all of my questions. I ended up choosing the one most compatible with my personality (and business). – Zuly Gonzalez 8 years ago
  • Again classic example of list question. – Herr K 6 years ago
  • @HerrKaleun I'm sorry, but this is not a list question. I'm not asking for a recommendation for a favorite X or a best X. List questions are those that elicit drive-by answers (i.e. quick, one-liner answers). – Zuly Gonzalez 6 years ago

3 Answers


2

Great question, but as a side note the best thing you can do is find outside references.

Interviewing an accountant is like interviewing a lawyer or doctor -- in fact there's nothing you can ask to truly know if they'll be capable and attentive and not screw something up and not charge you too much.

You're really interviewing for red flags and personality mis-match. Everything else you have to absorb from references.

answered May 28 '10 at 00:50
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Jason
16,231 points
  • Thanks Jason. Can you elaborate on what some of these red flags may be? – Zuly Gonzalez 9 years ago

2

Those are all great questions. Here are some that are worth adding:

  1. Amount of experience with your software (assuming you have selected it)
  2. What is the preferred method of sending him/her your accounting information?
  3. Have they ever been sued or any complaints or ethics violations with the State Board of Accounancy? (You can check this directly with the state agency)
  4. What was the result of their firm's most recent peer review?
  5. Get in writing the exact information and quality of that information that they need from you in order for them to do the work at the agreed upon fee. Accountants are notorious for quoting one fee and then billing extra for time incurred due to client delays, lack of informational quality, etc.
  6. Will you be working mostly directly with them or a member of his/her staff? If so, what is the staff member's experience level and credentials?
  7. What is their level of experience with companies in your specific industry and examples of services provided to them?
  8. Throw a few technical questions at them to see if they provide solid answers.

Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss -ghippe@smartfinancials.net. smartfinancials.net

answered May 29 '10 at 04:33
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Smart1 Cpa
171 points
  • Thanks Gorden! I'll definitely add those to my list. I may take you up on your offer and contact you at some point. – Zuly Gonzalez 9 years ago

0

I didn't have that problem because I'm using the same accountant that is filling my personal income taxes for the last 10 years.

I think you should find an accountant firm with a good reputation in your area if possible so you can visit often if needed. Then you can choose from the accountants that work there to pick the one with the most experience in LLCs.

answered May 28 '10 at 01:17
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Stefanos Tses
981 points

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