What to Look for in a CPA

CPA Accountant Tax Questions
CPA Questions

Looking for a CPA can be a daunting task, as many prospective clients are largely unfamiliar with exactly what a CPA can offer. We’ve compiled a short list of tips to help you find the right CPA for your needs, including some questions to ask both yourself and your potential CPA.


Are you hiring a CPA, or a general accountant? There’s nothing particularly wrong about hiring one versus the other, so long as you know what services to expect in return for payment.


Would someone recommend this CPA to you? Who are their other clients? Are most of their clients returning clients? How long have they had most of their regular clients? These are all questions you might consider asking your CPA before employing their services.


Is this CPA’s availability consistent with your needs (not all are available year-round)?


Is this CPA capable and willing to offer creative business advice?


Hiring a CPA doesn’t grant you 24/7 access to them, but you should be able to get a sense of how quickly they will normally respond to your questions or emails. Do they have a response timeframe? Can you call during normal business hours and speak to your accountant? What kind of services require a formal appointment?


Make sure your CPA is completely transparent about rates: are they going to charge you an hourly rate to respond to an email or take a 2-minute phone call? Ask up front: if they seem hesitant to give you a clear answer, you might consider looking elsewhere.


Understand that a CPA provides a service, and one of those services is *not* to make an otherwise bleak financial situation look better. A CPA is not a money fairy: if you haven’t been honest with yourself about your earnings and expenditures, you might not like the numbers at the end of the day.

Image credit: Brad Hagan