As a startup, I just interviewed my friend's very reputable accountant. Should I hire him, or find another that cares more about my business?
My friend loved her experience with her accountant, and is adamant that I should hire him. He did well when I interviewed him and seemed very knowledgeable, but didn't seem very passionate about my business or really seem to care about it at all.
Obviously he's capable of doing the job, but should I hire him or look for another accountant who I feel chemistry with?
Bryan, it very much depends on what you want your accountant to do. If you want an accountant that is going to provide you with all of the compliance aspects of your business, preparation of accounts, tax returns, payroll then I would say it doesn't matter too much about whether they have a passion for your business.
If however you are looking for more of a Business Partner relationship then you may want to look elsewhere.
You might also want to consider how urgently you need the accountant's services, if you have accounts to file or have already missed a deadline I would say go with an accountant now but be on the look out for a replacement. Changing your accountant shouldn't be a difficult process.
First, let me congratulate you on your New Margins start-up venture. The app sounds quite intriguing. I wish you much success.
My practical experience over the past 30+ years has led me to the opinion that a client generally selects a firm based on chemistry between the client and the accountant, location of the firm’s office, cost and perceived value of services, professional expertise, and trust.
In my practice, we strive for long-term relationships in our approach to service which makes us the exception that proves that rule. While the world around us moves at an ever-increasing pace, our one-to-one relationships do not vary. And our values, standards, and the care with which we treat our clients are enduring elements that can be relied upon never to change.
Accordingly, my vote is for chemistry. I must note that, by your stopping to weigh this significant relationship, you have already made another step towards success. Much luck and keep us abreast of your final decision.
I think you have to think about things a little differently personally. The main things you should be looking as is obviously competence. Then, assuming he will be a contracted account and not a member of your company, you should make sure that he responds quickly and completely to your requests or inquires.
As far as him not sharing your sense of passion, i think that is actually a PRO not a CON. Numbers are indifferent, they do not care about your business, goods, or services. They sure as hell do not care if you succeed or fail. Your account should be non-biased, tell you what you can and cannot afford, and keep your money in line. Is it a plus if you get a long with the guy? Sure! But i think you are thinking too hard about it.
If you have to ask if you should hire someone who cares more about your business, I think you answered your own question.
If your friend is adamant about you using him, she probably gets some type of reward for the referral, If that is the case, she's looking out for her interest instead of yours. I'd ask someone in your field who they use and recommend.
You are going to want to work with your CPA long term for more than just preparation of tax returns (tax planning, etc). I'd interview a couple of people and see who you think best fits your needs of YOUR business, not what your friend thinks you need. And if she is offended that you hire someone else, just explain you need someone who understands and work with people in your industry, with your entity type, etc.
Just my two cents...
You should hire not only a competent accountant, but one that you feel comfortable with. Never let anyone push you into hiring their professional. Go ahead and interview at least two more accountants. Use an online search that includes testimonials that are independent of the professional's website to find additional accountants in your area.
However, that being said, "passion" toward your business may be a hefty qualification to fill. I would say it would be better to look at the accountant's qualifications, business acumen and how he/she interacts with you. Not everyone will share your passion. That doesn't rule them out as a qualified professional.
I believe that hiring an accountant (CPA) is a personal thing and that one is entering into a long term relationship. To that end one should be comfortable with the accountant, the person, their expertise, communication style and their knowledge of one's business and plans for the future.
It is kind of like dating and personalities count for a lot more than most people give credit. After all if you cannot communicate and feel comfortable with your accountant you are far less likely to use that person or reach out to them for advice than if you are comfortable and at ease dealing with them.
Good luck with your search.
I don't know much about the specifics of the accounting business as it pertains to service providers and consultants, but I'll tell you one thing, I really don't like getting into business with people who I don't closely trust and feel strongly about.
In my opinion, business partners and even occasional contractees like accountants who you'll hopefully have a long relationship with should care about your company, Bryan, so that they don't overcharge you, so that they can contribute even light ideas, and so that they can be loyal and refer you to people who may turn into customers. While an unfriendly, unexcited accountant will surely still get the job done, you have an opportunity to get way more for the same price.
Businesses continue to put a lot of emphasis on the CV and referral during the recruitment process. Here's the deal: ANYONE CAN BE TRAINED. I've had the experience and the honor of developing people who came out of high school, working their way in fast food restaurants as service crew to becoming supervisors. I understand why companies would set parameters in hiring but the most important quality can be summed up in two words: RIGHT-FIT.
Our recruitment process places a great deal of emphasis on behavioral via personal evaluation tests, situational tests, analogies and group discussions. We try to determine if the candidate's core values are aligned with the company's. I cannot pass judgement on your friend's accountant because I have not interviewed or tested him. So I will trust your judgement.
That said, my advise would be to test him on a 3 month basis. This is called the "Incubation" period where you will determine whether there is synergy in your working relationship with him. Especially for a professional, it is highly important that an emotional connection is established because you will be ENTRUSTING your books with him. Accounting forms part of your back office. For a start up you have to make sure you are operating within your cash flow. A good, right-fit accountant will look beyond the numbers and advise you on how to manage your business as well. If you feel at any time during the incubation period that he is not right-fit, CUT HIM.
My accountant has been with me since 1998. He is in my opinion, one of the best and I have no fear recommending him because I know WHO he is as a person not just as an accountant.
Hmmm...interesting question...you know...first off, I am tempted to say, you should obviously hold out for someone you feel a chemistry with, and I guess that's the right answer, but mentally I wouldn't cross him off the list. The truth is we accountants aren't really people persons, and you really aren't hiring us to be a source of inspiration. That being said, we should come off as "caring about you". So, my answer is, keep looking, but don't cross this guy off, he has great reference and frankly charisma ain't our strong suit.
Also, I would be interested in what your friend would respond to your concerns. She might know another side of this guy. Maybe you just caught him on a bad day.
Accountant is not considered to be a part of your startup team but a service provider where knowledge of rules and regulations is needed. I would not expect passion from my accountant for my business, because we live in a different world (me and my accountant), what I expect from him is to provide correct information on time, be proactive on accounting issues.
My product does not rely on him but on the project team.
My taxes/payroll and all the pesky tasks rely on him :)
So my thought on this is, go for knowledgeable and reliable accountant who is passionate about his job, not yours :)
In my opinion, you need to work with whoever makes you feel comfortable. You have to be able to ask the questions which concern you and provide input as to what information will help you make your decisions, and feel like the person is more than just a list of qualifications, but someone who won't make you feel foolish for asking. That being said, chemistry isn't necessarily going to be there. However, making you feel that your business is important to him or her, I believe, is. Nobody really wants to be just another number on someone's balance sheet.
Echo, Congratulations on your startup. Chemistry is key to a pleasant working relationship and is a two way street. After all, we are all human and hopefully working together forging a team, and partnerships for success consistent with our casually daily greetings of "have a good day".
You've drawn some great responses. I would make sure they are a CPA ("accountant" can be bantered loosely in some markets). From there communication, computer savvy and compatible with you, and yes chemistry should close the deal.
Accountants may not need to be interested in the business to succeed--it can be a dull and tedious job and often work environment, people and comp are the driving factors.
That said, if you had chemistry with someone, then perhaps they can assist in other functions as well.
May consider whether hiring a full-time accountant is necessary at this time.
If you are looking for a CPA who is passionate about anything, you may be waiting for a while.
There are really two points that should be addressed here. First, the role of a CPA is pretty simple and honestly does not require a great deal of "care" (for lack of a better word), the CPA should be able to do a good job of preparing and filing your tax returns. In this capacity his passion, or lack thereof, for your business is not really an issue.
Many companies rely to heavily on their CPA to provide business management advice, this is really not the best role for the average CPA. This is a function that should be filled by an in-house accounting/finance person. (this doe not need to be a full time employee, by the way).
The inside accountant should definitely have passion for your business and have a good working relationship with the business owner. Competence is obviously of paramount importance, but nearly as important is how they view the business and how they work with others.
This person will be a key part of your management team, will help you formulate business strategy, and will work closely with other remembers of your staff, they will need to get lots of information from other remembers of your team and will need to be able to constructively give feedback to those people and to the business owner.
There is a great deal of truth in the old adage that you "manage what you measure", and the reality is that it is often times the in house accountant that does the measuring, so it is important that he have passion that the business be successful and be a person that other members of the organization can deal with constructively.
Congrats on looking to make a hire! There are already some great answers on this topic which I think can guide you in the right direction.
If you wish to hire another accountant, mosaicHUB can be the right place to do it. We have a concierge service (which you can access on your homepage). Once you post a project to our private board, our concierge team will contact you and personally recommend 3 vetted service providers.
Best of luck with your hire and your startup! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions.
If you are looking for an accountant for your business, then it is best to find one that has extensive experience in your buisness in particular. That is the very first and most important criteria.
Just because your friend had a good experience doesn't mean you will. Keep them in mind but look around a little more. You want to trust your gut feeling and find someone who will care about your business. That way you get the service you want no matter the cost. You will benefit in the end.
Hope this helps.
I'm not sure that this is a direct co-relation, but I hope it helps. I work with a lot of software developers and they listen to conversations and tend to translate them into logic and flow. This is natural to most of them, but could be easily be mis-construed as a detachment to the human factor. It may very well be that the accountant is very good at their job but any process outside crunching numbers is outside their comfort zone.
Not all accountants know your business, but there are many that are industry specific. I would definitely go with who you interviewed best with because at that point you should have cost, location and knowledge before you meet them for the most part.
The question is not that he is a friend of a friend, it is whether he is competent to do the job and the issues relating to it. Do not be too specific since you find yourself losing out on someone who has "hiddent talents". This is particularly true of computing systems and previously worked sectors; that is not a measure of the person's competence.
It is clearly important that you "get on" with the person which you are engaging since the last thing you want is confrontation once they are engaged, equally they may be useful in "bouncing ideas off" since their experience of the issues raised may different to yours, and realise that actually they have a valid point.
This business of "net-working" is not as sound as people would have you beleive and meeting the person face-to-face and assessing what they are able to do and how that will benefit your business is clearly more important. Something you have clearly done. However do not be put off by the fact that he did not seem enthused about your business; it might be that he just does not understand it. That in part is his fault for not researching your business and its aims etc before attending the interview.
If you explained the business to him, and he still seems apathetic, clearly you may be wasting eachother's time, if three months down the line he decides that it is not the job for him, or vice-versa. Further, he may be looking at you purely as a "stepping stone" and effectively an interim contract.. The only advantage you have is that should you engage him and he turns out not fit for purpose, you will not have paid an agency what may have been a significant amount as a "finding fee".
I can only provide suggestions, only you can make the decision.