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Preparing to Meet with an Accountant

When you are preparing to meet with the CPA or accountant you have hired for the first time you should be ready to ask some questions about the practice and how your relationship will work. For example, you should ask about the firm's style of working with its clients. You want your accountant to have a clear understanding of what you expect to get and when you expect to get it. Just as important is for you to understand what your accountant needs and expects from you in the relationship. Now is the time to clear up any misunderstandings, set expectations and identify problem areas.

Secondly, you should understand just how available your accountant will be to you. What is your accountant's availability to answer questions when they come up? How long does it generally take for your CPA to get back to you? What will happen if you need information very quickly in order to make an informed decision? Again, the more you can define your expectations and understand the way your accountant or CPA will work with you, the more likely you will be happy in the relationship and get what you need.

Another area you will want to address is who you will be working with at the firm. Communication is probably the most important factor in this relationship so you will want to be sure that you are working with someone that you trust and with whom you can communicate effectively. When you are dealing with complex financial information that affects your business you want to understand what you are being told and trust the source of the information.

It is also a good idea to discuss any specific accounting and tax issues your business has during your initial meeting. You want to make sure the accountant is aware of them and can address your concerns.

Finally, you should discuss how billing will work. When will you be billed? How much will you be billed? Is it a flat rate or hourly billing? What services are included? What services are extra? How much will you be billed when something falls outside of your agreement? If you have questions, will you be charged when you call? It is very important to have a clear understanding of billing before you actually begin work. That way no one is surprised and everything is clear.

It is important to take a little time to prepare your questions before you meet with your new accountant or CPA. Not only will this ensure you get your questions answered, but it will be a solid foundation for the relationship with your new accounting firm.

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