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How to Choose an Accountant

Choosing an accountant is like choosing the right pair of shoes. Typically, you want to find shoes that have high quality craftsmanship at an affordable price. However, not all shoes are made the same. It is important to try them on to see if they’re an overall great fit. Just like shoes, choosing an accountant is a very personal choice that depends on what you’re looking for.

What does an accountant do

According to the Oxford dictionary, an accountant is ‘a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts. In actuality, the accounting industry is so much more than just keeping or inspecting financial accounts - so what do accountants do in the industry? Accountants meticulously process their day to day responsibilities while successfully hitting hard deadlines ever year, quarter, and month. Accountants bookkeep, process tax returns, prepare financial statements, and some even have a hand in risk management. Accounting professionals can analyze financial records and statements, deduce what’s causing a firm to not do well, then provide recommendations on how to improve it.

With the addition of new tools and technologies, like cloud accounting software, there’s been a shift in what accountants can do. Accountants no longer have to spend a tedious amount of time manually updating their books and financial statements. Accounting software like Caseware Working Papers automatically updates financial statements if you decide to add an adjusting journal entry. Working Papers allows accountants to shift their focus away from manual entry, to really being able to analyze the books and provide consultation.

Finding the right accountant

If you’re an individual or small firm, a personal accountant who can perform basic accounting work will suffice. However, if you have a mid-size business that you’re planning on growing, or a company with a complex business structure, it’ll probably be best to find an accountant with advanced accountant qualifications

If you need someone to record daily transactions or prepare simple tax returns, a bookkeeper without credentials will be able to perform those menial tasks. If you need someone to help with risk management and business planning, it’s best to choose someone with certification in the accounting profession

One of the most sought out certifications includes the globally recognized Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. According to CPA Canada, members have comprehensive financial management skills that can provide services such as:

  • Start-up counselling
  • Purchases and sales of businesses
  • Business planning and financial projections
  • Process improvement
  • Developing strategies for securing financing
  • Preparing and analyzing financial information
  • Management consulting

In addition to certifications, if your business is in a specific market you may need to consider accounting for specialized industries (like healthcare, non-profit, or retail). You need to ask yourself if you need an accountant who has experience working with industry specific rules and regulations. Or if your prospective accountant has sufficient skills including:

  • Excellent mathematical skills for cash flows and day to day transactions
  • Strong organizational skills to keep records and statements orderly
  • Exceptional analytical skills to find patterns in data in reporting cycles
  • Adept technological skills to work in new cloud accounting software, like Caseware Working Papers

Let’s say you’ve found a few accountants who checks off all the qualification boxes on your list, it’s time to interview them to see if they’ll be a great fit.

Interviewing candidates for fit

Regardless of if you need an accountant with basic or advanced accounting qualifications, it will always be important for this person to fit within the workplace culture your firm has developed. For example: while interviewing an accountant, you can see how well they communicate by the language and tone they use. You can see how they react when asked difficult questions, or how they try to go about solving a problem. Based on what you know about your current team, will this new accountant fit in and create positive synergy?

If you want to move forward with a candidate, it’s necessary to discuss salary. Will you pay the accountant’s salary per hour, or come to an agreed upon annual salary? Will they be happy with their benefits while successfully completing all the necessary duties of an accountant? It’s crucial to start any relationship with as much transparency and honesty to ensure all parties involved are an overall great fit for each other.

What next?

If you’re an accountant looking for a change in industry, come join our team! Caseware offers a ton of opportunities in accounting software development. Explore more about career opportunities at Caseware.

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