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Background: Why Retain a CPA? — 

Small businesses and mid-size companies often have complex tax and accounting needs that require the help of a trained professional. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and their firms serve as advisers who can help address these issues.

A business should retain a CPA firm that has experience with small businesses such as sole proprietors, LLCs, or partnerships. Typically, a small company retains a CPA for a specific project or for a period of time.

A CPA firm combines a group of professionals who have passed the Uniform CPA Examination, and have obtained the CPA License from the State Board of Accountancy.

What type of Specializations and Services do CPA Firms Offer? — 

The mix of specializations and services offered by a CPA firm will depend on the skill, expertise and experience of the partners and staff at a particular firm. However, complex services often include accounting and auditing services, tax preparation, personal financial planning, management and business consulting, business valuation, bankruptcy and insolvency, fraud investigation and information technology.

How to find a CPA Firm — 

When beginning to look for a CPA firm you may want to reach out to your own network of trusted business owners and colleagues to ask them for a recommendation.

You may also want to reach out to your local trade association or membership organization like NJBIA. NJBIA has compiled a CPA directory in order to help our members select a CPA firm that is right for them. To learn more, please contact us at 1-800-499-4419 ext. 3 or member411@njbia.org.

Seven Questions to Ask While Interviewing a CPA Firm— 

1. Does the CPA firm have small business experience? 

 You should ask a CPA firm about its professional experience with small businesses, and what type of projects the company has worked on. This will help you identify if the firm is a good fit for your needs.

2. Is the CPA firm knowledgeable about your specific industry? 

 Small businesses tend to retain a CPA firm that has experience working within a specific industry (i.e. construction, restaurants or manufacturing).

3. Is the CPA firm knowledgeable about the regulatory environment and how it impacts small businesses? 

 A CPA firm should be well versed in laws and regulations that affect small businesses. For example, a CPA professional should be able to tell you the impact of the Affordable Care Act on your business.

4. What are the fees and costs charged by the CPA firm and how are they billed? 

 You should inquire about the firm’s billing structure and how much you will be charged for any services that will be performed.

5. How many years has the CPA firm been practicing? 

 You should ask how many years the CPA firm has been in business in order to ascertain whether the firm has sufficient experience in your industry or not.

6. Is the CPA firm representing any well-known businesses? 

 Asking about well-known clients may help in verifying the credibility of a CPA.

7. Is the CPA firm able to provide referrals? 

 You should ask the CPA firm to provide at least two to three referrals. These referrals can help you determine if the CPA firm is suitable for your needs.

For more information— 

If you need additional information, please contact Andrew Musick at amusick@njbia.org or

609-393-7707, ext. 9512. You can also contact NJBIA’s Member Action Center at 1-800-499-4419, ext. 3 or member411@njbia.org.

Updated: December 18, 2017 

This information should not be construed as constituting specific legal advice. It is intended to provide general information about this subject and general compliance strategies. For specific legal advice, NJBIA strongly recommends members consult with their attorney.