Are you struggling to decide what type of professional should handle your business finances? Should you hire a bookkeeper, accountant, or certified public accountant (CPA)? Organizations need to understand their needs and the specific services each professional can provide. Understanding these different specialties will be a game-changer in streamlining your business financials. Here is a brief description of each professional with their respective services:
Bookkeeper: Has an associate degree and experience in bookkeeping and records daily financial transactions such as credits and debits. They are responsible for income statements called profit & loss (P&L), process payroll, and manage accounts receivable and accounts payable.
Accountant: Has a bachelor's degree in accounting; can perform bookkeeping tasks along with more complex accounting tasks such as interpreting financial statements, creating financial models or creating a budget; tax preparation and work with you to come up with solutions to cut costs and increase profitability.
CPA: An accountant who passes the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam; can perform audits because they've undergone rigorous licensing examinations, is bound by state regulations and code of ethics, and have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients.
10 Questions To Ask To Secure The Right Person For The Job
When looking for an accounting professional, please do not assume they have specific skills or understand accounting concepts. Here is a list of questions you can ask:
What are the three financial statements?
How do the financial statements tie together?
How do you record accounts payable transactions?
What accounts do you debit and credit if I receive a loan?
What is bank reconciliation?
How do you record an accrued expense?
What steps do you take to close the books at the end of the month?
When is the last time you save a client money? How do you do it?
How do you communicate with your clients?
Name one item your client struggle with, how do you help?
Not only is there a need to ensure your accountant has the essential technical skills, but you should also certify they have soft skills. Your accountant should be able to understand accounting concepts but add value to your business. Your success should be their success. Here are four characteristics to look for in an accountant.
A Valuable Partner - Every professional you hire should bring something "special" to your business. For an accountant, this means assisting you with explaining how to get customers to pay earlier or communicating when your cash balance is too low to cover payroll. An accountant should be forward-thinking, keep you informed, and assist with long term planning.
The Clear Communicator - Accountants are not known to be extroverts. Many accountants weren't taught how to communicate accounting jargon to non-accounting individuals. However, stellar accountants have learned how to turn that technical jargon into more digestible information, aka speak human. They understand each client's communication style to build an open relationship.
Trusted Advisor - Entrusting an accountant to handle your business finances can seem uneasy. However, your business is your livelihood. Not only does your family depend on your business to thrive, but your staff members do also. It would help if you had an accountant to share your strengths and weakness without feeling uncomfortable. The accountant should be honest and direct but encouraging.
The most important decision that you can make when it comes to your business finances is recognizing when you need to enlist a financial professional's help. They will be an essential asset to maintain the fiscal health of your business.
Knowing whether your business or personal finances are healthy is crucial to your overall success and well-being. Linda Diakite Karressy, the owner of Insight Financial Group, makes accounting fun! She isn’t your stereotypical zero-personality accountant who wears the traditional green shade. She loves breaking down accounting to its lowest denominator so that everyone can grasp it. Plus, Linda’s a natural teacher. As a seasoned accounting professional, she understands how to engage adult learners and hold their attention.