Got questions? Call or Text MJ Ahmed CPA Today: (214)636-8100

Super User

Super User

Question #1: Is timely service delivered?


Accounting information can get out of date quickly. Except for annual information, most accounting information should be no more than 10-30 days old. You should be able to access your up-to-date information and your CPA quickly and easily.

A proficient CPA makes it a habit to get back to clients as quickly as possible. Phone messages should be replied to the day they are left or no later than the following day.



Question #2: Do the same people always service your account?



Ideally the same person should work with you not whoever is available at the time. That way a relationship can be built where the accountant and you are comfortable with each other.



Question #3: What services beyond the usual reporting and number-crunching are offered?



A CPA needs to be more than a data entry clerk. Its their duty as an adviser to make sure the information they receive makes sense. If it doesnt, they should ask questions and seek clarity.



Question #4: How can the accountant help you make more money?

It sounds like a wise-guy question, but the answer will help you find out if candidates are interested in your business. Did they review the financial information you provided prior to the interview? Did they make sure you understood the accounting concepts, instead of tossing off a bunch of jargon?



A proficient CPAs goal to save you more in taxes it is also in his best interest that you succeed.



Question #5: Do you believe Im paying too much, too little, or just the right amount of tax?



Beyond simply preparing tax forms, an accountant should be involved in business planning throughout the year. Typically, a quarterly review should be scheduled to ensure books and records are in order. This also allows the CPA time to advise clients about their businesses so they function with peak tax efficiency.



Because most business owners pay too much in taxes, a proficient CPA will analyze the tax situation from the form of entity to all legal means to plan and minimize all taxes paid.



Question #6: Do you consider yourself tech-savvy?



Small business accounting software has made powerful accounting tools available to everyone. But these accounting packages (most notably QuickBooks) are only as useful as the person who installs and runs the application. For this reason, a proficient CPA will help you install and set up a set of books, while also requesting them for review.



Question #7: Who are your other clients?



Imagine this scenario: You hire an accountant based on the assumption he understands the basics of your business. Then, you find out hes never had a client like you before. Instead, hes only prepared tax forms for wealthy individuals who dont own businesses.



Avoid this disaster by asking about the accountants clients. If they are businesses similar to yours, thats a good sign. In asking about clients, you will also want to understand the CPAs work schedule and whether he has the time and resources to support you adequately.



Question #8: What kind of creative business advice will you offer me?



Advising clients on what they can do to grow and set goals, as well as discussing issues, are all part of a proficient CPAs services. Together, this allows you to discover what works for your business so funds are used wisely.



Question #9: Why should I use you?



Ask the question and just listen for the answer. You should feel like the CPA really cares about your success.



Question #10: What kind of credentials do you have?



Tax professionals are usually certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents (EAs) or unenrolled preparers.



Question #11: How much professional education do you get annually?



Just passing the test to be a CPA or an EA isnt enough. With the tax code and interpretations of the code changing every year, continuing education is really essential. EAs are required to have 72 hours of continuing education in a three-year period; each state sets its own requirements for CPAs. In Oregon, for example, CPAs must take 80 hours of continuing education within a two-year period.



Many tax professionals take more than the minimum requirement for continuing education. Although more training doesnt necessarily mean the tax pro will be superior, its certainly not a bad sign.

 




Question #12: Who will I be interacting with?



Many tax firms assign more than one person to a clients return. You probably dont need to know how the back room operates, but you want to know if the person youre interviewing is the one who will be able to answer your questions about your return.



Question #13: Whats your policy on returning phone calls?



A common complaint often heard from consumers about their CPAs is about long wait for returned phone calls. CPAs arent famous for their communication skills. Its not unreasonable to ask how long you should expect to wait to have a call returned. Asking also lets your CPA know you do want your calls returned promptly.



Question #14: Are you available outside of the tax season?



Some tax preparers are seasonal. They are available only the first four months of the year, or their offices are close for a few months each year. If you expect year-round access, you need to make sure the tax professional is available.



Question #15: Are you a corporation of CPAs or an individual CPA that has their own business?



If you opt for the corporation, find out if youll be dealing with one particular person, or will it be whoever answers the phone when you call. Its best to have one person to build a relationship with.



Question #16: When do you work?



What are the CPAs hours of operation? Make sure that you can call him at hours that are convenient for you.



Question #17: Do you conduct your own business and personal affairs in a reasonably efficient and sensible way?



Ask questions about the CPAs approach to getting and serving clients, the role of staff, the use of technology including computers, communications equipment and the Internet as well as ways of keeping current, research methods, management of files and records, etc.



Question #18: Will my computer and/or I be serviced by you, a partner or junior accountants?



Many CPA firms train new associates at the clients expense. Be sure you get what you pay for.



Question #19: How are your fees calculated? Will you be charging me for every phone discussion?



To avoid friction later, it is essential to discuss the CPAs fee structure. Tax professionals may bill by the hour, form, overall return or some combination. After reviewing your previous returns and interviewing you, a tax professional should be able to give you a good-faith estimate of costs. If the CPA uses a time-based system, discuss the hourly rate of the accountant and staff, overhead expense reimbursement (what is the cost of a fax?) and whether certain time is not billed.



Find out now whether a simple two-minute phone call or a one-page fax means an hour of billable time. If thats the case, run for the door.



Question #20: What can I do to help you with your work and keep your fees to a minimum?



A great deal of your accountants time can be saved by preparing information beforehand. Find out if your CPA is willing to work with you to offload this work to your firm.



Question #21: Do you perceive any conflicts of interest?



CPAs work for dozens of firms and scores and sometimes hundreds of individuals. You should inquire if any of your direct competition is represented by the firm. If so, inquire as to how this conflict is handled.



Question #22: How long have you been a Certified Public Accountant, and what other licenses do you hold?



You should inquire with the state CPA organization to discover if there have been any disciplinary actions entered. Some accountants also have credentials as financial planners (PFS), securities representatives, business valuation experts, even lawyers. Check web directories and websites (e.g., http://www.CPAdirectory.com)



Question #23: How well have you integrated computers and the Internet into your practice, and has it enabled you to do more for the clients at less cost?



Integrating your computer files with your CPAs files can save time and money and increase accuracy. Doing so over the Internet makes it even simpler. Find out how your CPA uses the Internet. Does he have his own website? If so, check it out and ask questions about the resources available on it. Find out how you can interact with him and his computer systems to make work flow more efficient, while enabling both of you to stay in touch.

It is important to note, as regards CPA Exam Review, that there are 3 basic types. These include: a traditional class set up, an online class, or a self study. CPA Exam Review involving a traditional class set up is the most common though it is very expensive. CPA Review courses are reputable and are considered the best way to pass the cpa exam.

For a person to pass the cpa exam, it comes at a price. You will have to bear the total cost of the CPA Review course if you wish to undertake the total four exam sections. Class set up review is suitable for those who have cash to spend, provided they carry out comprehensive research to ascertain the reputation of the course.

Online classroom CPA Reviews have a similarity with class room set up, only that the candidate controls the pace of the CPA review course, instead of the course timetable. It comprises of aspects associated with traditional class instruction as well as self study. It is the responsibility of the student undertaking online CPA review to motivate themselves and dedicate adequate amount of time to go through the cpa study material in order to eventually pass the cpa exam.

Self study CPA Review involves the student going through the cpa study material on their own. Self study CPA Review is a great idea for those who lack funds to enroll for either class set up or online CPA Exam Review. The secret about this method lies in having the right cpa study materials. Students can choose from a wide variety of CPA Exam Review manuscripts. These cpa study materials are highly regarded and each year sees newly released versions that guarantees candidates that the content in the CPA study materials will be in the CPA exam. Self study CPA review is a good way of saving on the costs that a CPA exam review course will demand.

 

You can always, regardless of your geographical location, find a variety of CPA Review courses by doing an internet search. Additionally, you can seek for references from the CPA society governing your state. Also, you can contact college accounting curriculum school to get their views. Since this is a major decision in your life, comprehensive research should be done.

In spite of the study method you choose for your CPA exam review, you should remember to add valuable cpa study materials as well as past cpa exam questions to your study program. Moreover, there are a couple of websites that offer candidates free cpa exam questions for practice coupled with comprehensive answers. The cpa exam questions should form the central part of your CPA Exam preparation. You can use these websites as sources for cpa exam questions besides sampling the cpa study material that they offer online.

It is important, regardless of the type of CPA Review you settle for, to use updated cpa study material. The reason being CPA Exams change each year and studying old cpa study materials might present you with wrongful information, hence costing you points.

 

Truth be told, you don't have to be an award winning copywriter to create effective marketing materials for your CPA practice. I found out a number of years back that even the "pros" use templates to create ads and sales letters that get results.

Before I share my template, it is important to first understand some of the objections that may be going on in the mind of the prospect whenever they see your advertising. You will want to make sure the marketing piece you create overcomes these objections.

These objections could include:

• You don't understand my problem.
• How do I know you are qualified?
• I don't believe you.
• I don't need it right now.
• It won't work for me.
• What happens if I don't like it?
• I can't afford it.

Here is my 12-point template to follow to create effective material pieces:

1) Get attention

If the headline doesn't catch the prospect's attention, the rest of the letter will not be read. Here's an example of a good headline: "Some Small Business Owners Pay A Lot More Tax Than Others; Will You Pay Too Much In 2009?"

2) Identify the problem

After you have gotten the reader's attention, you need to gain their interest by spelling out their problem. The reader should say to themselves "yeah, that's exactly how I feel" when he or she reads your sales letter. This technique in the marketing world is called "problem - agitate."

3) Provide the solution

In this section, you will introduce yourself and your services. You position yourself as the solution to their problem.

4) Present your credentials

 


This is the time and opportunity to toot your own horn. A few things you may consider to put here are the length of time you have been in this area of expertise, as well as important awards or recognition.

For myself, I talk about my credentials, including the fact that I am author of a book and a list of magazines I have appeared in.

5) Show the benefits

Help your prospects understand what they will gain from your services.

6) Give social proof

Provide testimonials from real clients as evidence that your claims are true.

7) Make your offer

Have a specific offer-more specific than your general services.

8) Give a guarantee

Guarantees help overcome the objection "What if it doesn't work?"

9) Inject scarcity

Make sure the reader understands this offer isn't going to be available forever. This helps to encourage them to take action now.

10) Call to action

Tell prospects clearly and specifically what to do in order to take you up on your offer.

11) Give a warning

What will the prospects miss out on if they don't take action now?

12) Close with a reminder

Sure, twelve steps are a little more work than slapping down your name, address, and phone number in an image ad. But if you are serious about growing your CPA practice, it is important to implement effective CPA marketing techniques.

From hereon, whenever you want to create effective CPA firm marketing materials, follow the 12-point template that I have just shared with you.

We talk about businesses being teams, but it's rare that I meet an owner of a CPA business who really trusts every member of his or her "team" to do what they should do, all the time, whether the "boss" is in the office or not.

Sports teams can't work that way. When the members of any athletic team are focusing on their individual tasks, they have to trust that their teammates will do their jobs, too. If the pitcher is busy supervising the outfielders, he can't do his job. In order to be able to focus on your job as leadership, then, you need to have staff you trust.

You want staff that you feel confident interacting with your clients if you are going to create a successful CPA practice. So they have to be top notch, both technically and from a customer service standpoint. I will often receive comments from my clients about how wonderful my staff is and in this article, I will impart to you a few of my strategies that have worked well in my CPA practice when it comes to staff recruiting and retaining.

1) The first one is to design an ad that clearly articulates the type of team member that will best fit your organization. In this ad, describe the character and attitude of the person. The important thing to keep in mind is to hire for attitude and train for skills. When I meet with a candidate, I follow a list of questions I've created that gives me visibility into their personality and their way of thinking. I talk to a lot of CPAs and I find that they haven't prepared adequately to do the interview so they are flying by the seats of their pants during the interview. You want to be so prepared that you are not fumbling for questions; instead you are engaging the prospective candidate to understand their attitude.

2) Hire slow, fire fast. I have been guilty of breaking this rule more times than I am proud to admit but its good advice that I came across a number of years back. Most business owners fire slow.

They think it will get better. I read one study that said that the average firings take somewhere between 6 and 18 months after the business owner knew the employee was performing poorly, consistently non-compliant and negatively affecting others. A lot of harm is done in this period of time due to not firing the poor performing employee faster.

 


Along the lines of my advice to CPA practitioners to fire fast, I encourage them to hire slow. Have a second person interview the candidate. Don't rush the hiring process. Check references by asking probing questions and LISTEN. CPAs can be poor listeners.

3) The other one is; don't expect what you don't inspect. Have weekly meetings to go over work duties and assignments. I have systematized my office where I now work three days per week. On one of the days that I come in, I spend half a day for staff meetings and go over administrative matters. I meet with my CPA and my Senior Manager to make sure the work is being produced within the pre-established standards.

Also, and this is important, keep your eyes and ears open when are there. Listen to the way your staff members talk to clients. I also like "mystery shopping." What that means is you have someone call the office pretending to be a prospective client. Hear how this person is being handled. I can guarantee you that you will not be happy with the way they are handled. It's your job to identify what needs to improve and to provide the necessary training.

4) Celebrate small victories. Reward staff for being on your team and helping you to take your practice to the next level. When the staff goes the extra mile, I will publicly praise them....sometimes send them something to their home like a fruit basket. We celebrate birthdays, and we have two parties every year, one after tax season and one during the holiday time. You want to have fun and I see that running a successful CPA practice is a team effort to give the client the "ultimate" experience.

Follow the strategies I have identified in the article and you will see your CPA practice attaining new levels.

Monday, 28 October 2013 08:15

Blog Title 2

image

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr..

Monday, 28 October 2013 08:14

Blog Title

image

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr..

Page 2 of 2