By Stacey Gorowitz, CPA, MBA
Mergers and acquisitions happen in every industry, and accounting is no exception. In fact, it has been happening with more and more frequency in the accounting industry over the last few years. So now, it’s not uncommon for a CPA firm that you’ve worked with happily for years to suddenly join forces with another firm in a bid to grow larger and more competitive. That may be good for the firms, but it’s not always good for their clients.
What happens after the change may affect you only minimally, with the service you receive and access level to your trusted professionals intact. In other cases, however, you may find you’re not getting the service you deserve or no longer working with the partner or manager you used to. When you start to feel like a number rather than a personal client known to your CPA, it’s time for a change.
While growing larger makes sense for accounting firms in many cases, the truth is that your interests may be better served by a smaller one if you find the right fit. After all, small providers have access to the same research material and resources for the most part that the large firms use. Fees are typically less and may represent a significant cost savings as well. So how do you go about finding a new provider once you’ve realized you’re unhappy with the old one? Frequently, people who are unsatisfied with their accountant stick around anyway, unsure how to make the transition to another. That’s not good for business – your financial matters belong in the hands of someone you like, respect and trust to know you as well as tax law and accounting. Instead of wishing things were like they used to be, try these tips:
- Ask around. Make inquiries among your respected business advisors such as your attorney or banker, as well as with family and friends, and ask for a recommendation.
- Check qualifications. Research in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or your state society such as The Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants.
- Research details. Does his or her experience match your situation? Do the demonstrated tax specialties and accounting experience fit with the services you need? Do they have experience in your industry?
- Ask awkward questions. It’s important to know things like fee structure and level of year-round availability. Go ahead and ask, because the answers will affect your level of satisfaction.
It’s hard to change CPAs, even when you’re unhappy. These are people who know you and your history, as well as your very personal information. But making the effort to switch to a new accounting home that better meets your needs is a decision that will pay off year after year. If you find yourself in this situation, we would be happy to talk to you about how we might be able to assist you.