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Accounting Services Hiring Guide

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Accounting Services Hiring Guide

Updated March 19, 2024

Accounting plays a crucial role in the success and growth of any organization, and finding the right accounting service can make a world of difference.

Accounting paints a clear picture of a company’s financial health and performance by ensuring compliance, keeping track of income and expenses, and facilitating effective communication.

Whether you're a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or an individual looking for expert financial assistance, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the right choice for your needs.

From navigating the complexities of tax laws to ensuring accurate record-keeping, we will explore the key factors to consider when hiring accounting services.

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What is Accounting?

Accounting: The process of recording, analyzing, and interpreting financial information to assist with planning, decision-making, and evaluating the performance of a business.

Accounting helps businesses keep track of their income, assets, and expenses. It provides key insights into a company's financial health and operations, helping stakeholders make informed decisions.

In addition to transparency and decision-making, accounting goals include effective budgeting, ensuring all legal requirements are followed, and facilitating financial transactions.

These goals can power businesses to thrive in a competitive marketplace while driving sustainable growth, which is why hiring an accounting professional is paramount.

Some tasks accounting firms perform include:

  • Financial management
  • Bookkeeping and record maintenance
  • Preparation of taxes, financial statements, and other related documents
  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Auditing
  • Business consulting

Accounting firms tailor their services based on the needs of the client. By employing accurate accounting practices, businesses can analyze their profitability, identify areas for improvement, and optimize resource allocation. It serves as a vital foundation for financial management, enabling companies to drive growth, make strategic investments, and achieve long-term success.

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4 Signs You're Ready to Hire an Accountant

  1. Period of Growth: Experiencing rapid growth or preparing for expansion can indicate that your company needs professional accounting services to manage the increased financial complexity.
  2. Increased Revenue without Increased Profit: If your revenue is growing, but your profit isn't reflecting this growth, it may be a sign that your financial management could benefit from the expertise of an accounting firm.
  3. Overwhelming Tax Season: Tax season can be overwhelming for businesses, so having an accountant can ease internal stress.
  4. Time & Efficiency: If managing your accounts is taking up too much of your time or if understanding your financial reports is difficult, an accountant can improve the efficiency of your financial management.

5 Benefits of Accounting Services

No matter what industry you’re in or the size of your business, your company's bottom line matters. Completing accounting tasks like tax services, payroll, and financial planning is essential. Hiring an accounting firm to complete the work is the best opportunity to maximize your company’s growth.

Here are some of the biggest reasons companies invest in accounting services:

  1. Gaining professional insights. Connecting with an accounting team with the right skillset can deliver effective performance, a strategic mindset, and familiarity with financial opportunities. Accounting firms are knowledgeable with tax laws and other expertise that might be lacking internally.
  2. Minimizing errors. Since your company is working with an accounting firm with top expertise, all of the number crunching is left to the professionals, who will minimize any mistakes or issues.
  3. Saving time and effort internally. Your company can focus on their in-house tasks if your team has hired a full-service accounting firm that caters to your business accounting needs. There will be less stress on your team if your accounting services are handled by an outside professional.
  4. Scaling and flexibility. Accounting services can adapt to your business's changing needs. Whether you need assistance during busy seasons or want to expand your operations, they can provide scalable solutions tailored to your requirements.
  5. Gaining access to advanced tools. Accounting firms often utilize advanced accounting software and tools to streamline processes and improve accuracy. By outsourcing, you can leverage these technologies without the need for significant investments.

What Accounting Services Do Outsourced Firms Provide?

The services a firm provides are based on the accounting needs of the client, but there are accounting firms that specialize in certain areas.

accounting services

Here are some of the most common services that an accounting firm will offer, including the tasks involved and the objectives of each:

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the process of organizing a business's financial transactions. Bookkeeping services involve maintaining accurate records of income, expenses, and other elements that affect cash flow. Bookkeeping serves as the foundation for financial reporting, helping businesses keep their financial health on track.

Bookkeepers can record financial transactions, manage accounts payable and accounts receivable, reconcile bank statements, generate financial reports, and more.

While many accountants and accounting firms offer bookkeeping, only some bookkeepers are accountants by trade.

Businesses can only operate successfully with a record of all of its financial transactions, making bookkeeping a highly important financial consulting service.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting is the process of summarizing, recording, and reporting a business’s financial transactions and activities to provide external stakeholders with the most reliable and relevant information about an organization’s financial standing.

Financial accountants perform numerous tasks including recording financial transactions, preparing financial statements, performing analysis and forecasting, offering advisory services, and other accounting solutions that help organizations with their financial growth.

It's important to note that financial accounting focuses on historical financial data and is primarily intended for external stakeholders. Internal management accounting may involve additional tasks and analysis focused on providing timely and relevant financial information to support internal decision-making.

Forensic Accounting

Forensic accountants apply accounting, auditing, and investigative skills to analyze financial data, provide expert opinions, and present evidence in legal proceedings. This is a specialized accounting field, which likely isn’t used by all companies searching for traditional accounting services.

Forensic accountants can analyze financial statements to identify patterns, investigate instances of fraud, act as expert witnesses in legal proceedings, and more.

In today's digital age, forensic accountants may specialize in computer forensics, investigating electronic evidence such as emails, electronic documents, and financial data stored on computers or networks.

Payroll

Accounting firms often offer payroll services, much like payroll processing companies that strictly offer this service. Payroll might seem like a straightforward task, but it can get complicated when a large number of employees work different hours or are on salary.

The person in charge of payroll must manage all of this while ensuring all tax laws are being followed. They are also responsible for wage calculations, data management, recordkeeping, and distribution.

Tax Preparation & Audits

Tax preparation and auditing are two distinct processes related to assessing, reporting, and verifying financial information for tax purposes.

Tax preparation is the process of preparing tax returns to comply with federal, state, and local tax laws. All businesses have to file a tax return, so it makes sense to hire an accounting firm to assist with tax preparation services.

Those who assist with tax preparation help gather financial data and information, calculate tax liability, and file and complete tax forms. Tax auditing involves reviewing and verifying the accuracy of the completed tax returns.

It's important to note that tax preparation and auditing can vary depending on the specific tax laws and regulations of different jurisdictions. Professional assistance from certified public accountants (CPAs) or accounting firms is often sought to ensure accurate tax preparation and to navigate tax audits effectively.

Common KPIs of Accounting Support

Since accounting is a broad area, your organization’s needs are directly tied to the key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to evaluate performance.

The choice of KPIs may vary depending on the specific goals, industry, and nature of the accounting services being provided. Organizations should select KPIs that align with their strategic objectives and regularly review and analyze the data to drive improvements.

Some common KPIs for accounting services include:

  1. Accounts Payable Turnover: Calculates the number of times accounts payable are paid off within a specific period. It indicates the efficiency of managing vendor payments.
  2. Return on Investment (ROI): Measures the profitability of an investment.
  3. Gross Profit Margin: Measures the percent of revenue remaining after a good is sold. This indicates the profitability of the firm’s core business activities.
  4. Operating Cash Flow: Measures the cash generated or used by a company's core operations within a specific period.
  5. Current Ratio: Assesses the ability of a company to meet its short-term obligations by comparing current assets to current liabilities.

What Roles are Included in an Accounting Team?

Each individual who works for an accounting firm provides a different function and brings specific expertise to the table.

Depending on what your company’s accounting goals are, there are opportunities for different responsibilities and the type of bandwidth.

accounting team

For example, suppose your company is just looking for business tax preparation services. In that case, an individual CPA might be the best route rather than an accounting firm that provides a variety of accounting support.

It's important to note that the composition of an accounting firm can vary based on the specific services offered and the firm's focus. Larger accounting firms may have specialized departments or divisions for different areas of expertise, while smaller firms may have a more generalized approach.

While individual expertise may vary, there are some common roles that comprise an accounting team. Each one plays a part in assisting your company’s accounting needs.

Who Makes Up an Accounting Firm?

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Licensed professionals with expertise in accounting.
  • Tax Specialists: Professionals who specialize in tax planning and compliance. Their role is to support their clients in optimizing their tax strategies and obligations.
  • Auditors: Auditors perform financial audits to verify the accuracy of financial statements.
  • Bookkeepers: Professionals who handle the maintenance and recording of financial transactions and records.
  • Financial Consultants: Advisors that assist with guidance on financial matters that might include forecasting, investment strategies, budgeting, and financial planning.
  • Administrative Staff: Team members that assist with a variety of functions like document management and scheduling.

What To Look For When Hiring Accounting Services

There are plenty of accounting services that specialize in tasks that your business is looking for. However, finding the right one for your business might take more work with all of the options available.

For most businesses, the most important factors are budget and location. Working with accounting firms in your area will be more beneficial for collaboration and knowledge of tax laws related to your jurisdiction and business needs. Your budget concerns are important as well to help eliminate providers that might fall out of your price range.

Companies have diverse requirements when it comes to hiring a professional for their accounting and business needs.

Criteria for Hiring an Accounting Firm

  • Location
  • Budget
  • Accounting expertise & range of services
  • Industry reputation
  • Certifications & qualifications
  • Knowledge of accounting technology & software
  • Communication style
  • History of client satisfaction

Consider What Matters to You Most

Whether you choose to hire someone internally for accounting and payroll services or plan to outsource to an accounting expert, finding the right partner comes down to what matters most for your company’s accounting needs.

You can begin shortlisting potential accounting services by narrowing down vendors based on certain criteria. Can they deliver the results you need? Are they knowledgeable in the right accounting expertise? Do they meet other requirements your business might have?

When it comes time to interview potential accounting professionals, your team must evaluate them based on their business services, past clients, communication style, and more.

Here are a few questions you should ask when interviewing accounting service providers:

10 Questions to Ask Accounting Service Providers

  1. What accounting services does your company offer?
  2. How many years of experience does your team have in their different roles?
  3. Do you have experience working with companies in our industry?
  4. Can you provide client references?
  5. How do I contact your team for questions?
  6. Will your firm help outside of tax season?
  7. How do you stay updated on tax laws and regulations?
  8. Does your team work with accounting software and tools?
  9. How do you ensure the security of financial information?
  10. What is your pricing structure?

When looking for the right accounting service provider for your company’s needs, be clear about your business objectives and the state of your business. Communicate all of the responsibilities and thoroughly scope out the partnership.

Making the Right Hiring Decision for Accounting Services

Hiring the right accounting services can significantly impact the success and growth of your business. You can find a reputable provider that meets your needs by carefully considering factors such as experience, certifications, and references. Remember to ask about the range of services offered, their approach to tax planning and compliance, and how they ensure the security of your financial information.

With the help of a reliable accounting service provider, your business can navigate complex financial matters, stay compliant with regulations, and effectively manage your resources. Take the time to research, ask the right questions, and choose an accountant that will be a trusted partner in your journey toward financial success.

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