accountant http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11808/all en-US How to Hire an Accountant http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-an-accountant <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-hire-an-accountant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5590727330_5a7354ccba_z.jpg" alt="meeting" title="meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you&rsquo;ve found an accountant you&rsquo;re considering hiring, it&rsquo;s important to do some research. After all, you&rsquo;ll be handing over a lot of financial data, and you need to know you can trust whoever has access to it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-right-accountant-for-you">How to&nbsp;Find the Right Accountant for You</a>)</p> <h3>Checking Your Accountant&rsquo;s Credentials</h3> <p>Especially if you&rsquo;re looking for help with a specific problem, it&rsquo;s a good idea to confirm your accountant&rsquo;s credentials before you decide to work together. Every state has its own licensing board, most of which let you confirm license details online. You can find a list of licensing boards through <a href="http://www.nasba.org/stateboards/">the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy</a>.</p> <p>It may also make sense to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-great-job-references">references</a> or testimonials. Talking to someone who has already worked with the accountant you&rsquo;re considering can help alleviate concerns. You can ask for references. You can also check for online recommendations, such as those that may be posted on your accountant&rsquo;s <a href="http://linkedin.com">LinkedIn</a>&nbsp;profile.</p> <h3>Interviewing Your Accountant</h3> <p>Most accountants will agree to an informal discussion before taking on any new clients, which you should treat as an opportunity to interview any accountant you&rsquo;re considering working with. Ask any questions you need answered to ensure this accountant is the right one for you, such as:</p> <ul> <li>What type of clients does this particular accountant work with?</li> <li>How can this accountant help you?</li> <li>What will this accountant need from you?</li> </ul> <p>Also make a point to ask who will be doing the work at your accountant&rsquo;s firm. Most accountants who handle personal tax returns and similar issues don&rsquo;t have a big firm backing them &mdash; those big companies that handle massive numbers of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records">tax returns</a> every year usually rely on staff with credentials below those of an accountant. They&rsquo;re perfectly fine at completing anything run-of-the-mill but may not be able to cope with something more complex. At smaller firms, though, it&rsquo;s not out of the question that an accountant may rely on some outside help. Some go so far as to have routine work handled by overseas contractors, while focusing on anything more complex themselves.</p> <p>Make sure you&rsquo;re comfortable with whatever the answer is. Personally, if I&rsquo;m paying for an accountant, I&rsquo;d like to know that he&rsquo;s doing the work himself or that I can walk into the office and talk to anyone he&rsquo;s hired. I also want to know exactly who has access to any of my financial data. But that&rsquo;s just my preference &mdash; as long as you trust your accountant and the people working with him, make the choice that feels right to you.</p> <h3>Paying Your Accountant</h3> <p>Even if price is not the foremost concern in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-hire-a-tax-professional-even-if-you-dont-mind-the-work">choosing an accountant</a>, it is something you want to talk about with your accountant in advance. Get an idea of the basic fees and costs that go along with the type of work you need done.</p> <p>Provided that you&rsquo;re only having your accountant handle a few personal matters, like your yearly tax return, your accountant will probably bill you after completing each task. There are some services, particularly for businesses, that an accountant may bill for on a monthly basis.</p> <p>As long as you feel good about working with the accountant you&rsquo;ve chosen, you&rsquo;re pretty much done at this point. From here, it&rsquo;s just a matter of formalizing your arrangement and letting your accountant get to work.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-an-accountant" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Hire an Accountant" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-an-accountant">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-you-should-fire-your-accountant">When You Should Fire Your Accountant</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes">Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Taxes accountant accounting services hiring professionals Thu, 06 Sep 2012 09:48:41 +0000 Thursday Bram 954317 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Find the Right Accountant for You http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-right-accountant-for-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-find-the-right-accountant-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/croppediStock_000016565687Small.jpg" alt="accountant and couple" title="accountant and couple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Finding the right accountant can make a world of difference when it comes to managing your money, but it can be easier said than done. There are a few ways that you can make the process go much easier, though.</p> <h3>Why Do You Need an Accountant?</h3> <p>The first question you need to think about when looking for an accountant is why do you need help with your finances &mdash; and what sort of help do you need? Not every individual really needs an accountant. There are a number of services out there that can help you with your taxes, if that's your only concern. An accountant usually works with individuals or organizations with slightly more complicated finances, ranging from managing a business' finances to helping an individual keep investments straight. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-mistakes-to-avoid-with-a-financial-adviser" title="6 Mistakes to Avoid With a Financial Adviser">6 Mistakes to Avoid With a Financial Adviser</a>)</p> <p>You could just start calling accountants based on who is closest to you, but most accountants have specialties. You're not going to get exactly the help you need from just any accountant.</p> <p>When we talk about accountants, we can actually be referring to one of several different kinds of financial expert. There are quite a few different designations for accountants, from the common &quot;certified public accountant&quot; to a certified management accountant or an accredited <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business" title="How to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business">business accountant</a>. It's most likely that you're looking for a CPA if you're generally looking for an accountant in the U.S. (other designations are used in other countries). A CPA will help set up the books for a new business, prepare tax returns, and handle a wide variety of other accounting tasks &mdash; unless you have a sizable business and need specialized help with your accounting, a CPA is usually the place to start.</p> <p>It's still important to narrow the field down even further, though. Many CPAs work with specific types of clients. For instance, the CPA who helps me with my business focuses on small businesses that don't need much in the way of payroll but do need advice on business operations from time to time. He works with a lot of freelancers and small business owners, though he does take on other clients. Ask right off the bat about whether an accountant you're considering working with handles your type of situation &mdash; most are very clear about what types of clients they want to work with. You should also ask about specifics like price and who will actually do any work, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-file-your-first-tax-return" title="How to File Your First Tax Return">preparing a tax return</a>.</p> <p>Make a note of what sort of help you need. The price you'll pay for an accountant's help can definitely depend on exactly what you need done. Most CPAs work on an hourly basis, often starting at a price of $150 and going up from there. But for common situations, like needing a tax return prepared, you can expect prices to start closer to $90 &mdash; provided you are employed and don't have particularly complicated finances.</p> <h3>It's All About the Referral</h3> <p>Because an accountant may wind up knowing every last thing about your financial situation, it's important to find someone you're personally comfortable working with. Starting with a referral is often the best way to do so. Ask around to find out whom your peers use and whether they recommend their current accountants. If you're having a hard time getting a recommendation, many review-based sites, such as <a href="http://yelp.com">Yelp</a>, do list accountants and other financial professionals. However, you'll want to dig a little deeper than just a review online &mdash; while it's fine for choosing a restaurant for dinner, you'll want more information when you're putting all your financial information in someone's hands.</p> <p>If you operate a business, it may be worth going to your professional associations (such as the local Chamber of Commerce, if you are a member) and getting referrals there. You can get good leads on reliable accountants quickly.</p> <p>Of course, you'll do the necessary due diligence to make sure that you're working with a reliable accountant. But because of that &quot;certified&quot; part of the job title, it's relatively easy to make sure that anyone you choose to work with has the necessary credentials to handle any accounting quandary you may face. Individual state boards are responsible for issuing certifications, and most will now allow you to verify an accountant's credentials online. A quick online search can also confirm that you've chosen the right person to work with. Many CPAs (including the one I work with) now have websites, Twitter accounts, and even blogs to help you make the right decisions.</p> <h3>An Ongoing Relationship</h3> <p>Even if you only visit your accountant for a yearly tax planning session, it's important to have an ongoing relationship. The best accountants will go out of their way to update you on new legislation, as well as anything else that might impact your finances. You may not anticipate needing help, but already having a great working relationship with your accountant can put you ahead of the game in the event of an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit" title="How to Survive a Tax Audit">audit</a> or other financial situation.</p> <p>Depending on how you expect your finances to change in the future, you may want to ask about some of the options that an accountant might offer before making your final decision. If you know you need to start planning for retirement or a child's education, you should ask about what sort of financial consulting or planning services a particular CPA offers.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-right-accountant-for-you" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Find the Right Accountant for You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-right-accountant-for-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-lessons-from-millionaires">5 Money Lessons From Millionaires</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-worst-pieces-of-financial-advice-your-friends-give-you">The 5 Worst Pieces of Financial Advice Your Friends Give You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-the-sort-of-person-who">Not the sort of person who ...</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-personal-finance-rules-everyone-must-follow">The 6 Personal Finance Rules Everyone Must Follow</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Personal Finance accountant accounting financial advice financial advisers Tue, 07 Feb 2012 11:00:34 +0000 Thursday Bram 874763 at http://www.wisebread.com Who Should Handle Your Business Finances http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/who-should-handle-your-business-finances <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/who-should-handle-your-business-finances-joanne-berg" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/who-should-handle-your-bu...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/who-should-handle-your-business-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008382619Small.jpg" alt="Financial meeting" title="Financial meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/who-should-handle-your-business-finances" class="sharethis-link" title="Who Should Handle Your Business Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Every business has a Chief Financial Officer &mdash; the person who has overall responsibility for the financial management of the company. In your business, that person might be you!</p> <p>Here are some of the responsibilities of the CFO:</p> <ul> <li>Financial control over assets</li> <li>Internal control systems</li> <li>Bookkeeping</li> <li>Financial accounting</li> <li>Cost accounting</li> <li>Financial reporting</li> <li>Operational reporting</li> <li>Tax compliance</li> <li>Investor relations</li> <li>Lender and banking relations</li> <li>Cash management and cash flow forecasting</li> <li>Budgeting and financial planning and projections</li> <li>HR and payroll</li> <li>Insurance and risk management</li> </ul> <p>In a new business, it is not uncommon for the owner to take on all of these duties, but eventually you&rsquo;ll need to start delegating some of them.</p> <p>Bookkeeping and accounting are both part of the financial-management process.&nbsp;While every business is somewhat different, here is a typical small-business scenario to illustrate the relationship between them:</p> <h3>Bookkeeping</h3> <p>As businesses grow, many owners look forward to hiring a bookkeeper. This makes sense &mdash; handling the day-to-day bookkeeping is probably not the best use of your time. A good bookkeeper will have specialized training and several years of experience in using the accounting software that your business uses. He or she should also have some basic knowledge of double-entry accounting, but an accounting degree is not required.</p> <p>Your bookkeeper will be responsible for accurately and completely entering all of your day-to-day business transactions into the software. Bookkeepers also typically write the checks and handle the payroll. Depending on the type of business, they may also do the invoicing and handle the accounts receivable and cash receipts.</p> <p>A certified full-charge bookkeeper will also be able prepare your monthly and annual financial statements using the accrual basis of accounting. However, not all bookkeepers are qualified to do this, and most will need to consult with your CPA on how to properly account for difficult or unusual transactions.</p> <p>As accounting software packages have gotten easier to use, the barriers to entry in the bookkeeping field have gotten lower. Anyone can call himself or herself a bookkeeper, and seasoned CPAs can tell you many horror stories about the results of unqualified personnel &ldquo;keeping the books.&rdquo; To avoid this, ask your CPA to help you ensure that the person you are hiring is qualified, and be careful about promoting someone into that position who has not done it before. It&rsquo;s not as simple as it looks!</p> <p>Finally, once you start delegating financial tasks, internal control systems become very important, so consult an expert to help you set up your policies and procedures so that your financials are correct and your assets are not at risk. For internal control reasons, your bookkeeper should not be authorized to sign checks, and if they are reconciling the bank accounts, you or your CPA should review the reconciliations each month.</p> <h3>Accounting</h3> <p>Accounting is less concerned with data entry at the time of the transaction and more concerned with the analysis of that data and the preparation of managerial and financial reports, which are used to run and grow the business.</p> <p>During the early years of your company, you will rely on your outside CPA to provide you with the sophisticated accounting, tax, and financial advice that your bookkeeper is not qualified to provide. As your business continues to grow, you will eventually hire a degreed accountant to oversee your bookkeeper and handle more sophisticated financial and accounting tasks. This person should also take on the controllership function for your company, which means they will handle banking relationships, cash-flow projections, budgeting, cost accounting, tax compliance, and other higher-level responsibilities.</p> <p>Your controller should have at least a four-year degree in accounting, financial management experience in your industry, and preferably a CPA or CMA (Certified Management Accountant) designation as well.</p> <h3>Financial Management</h3> <p>Eventually your company will require a Chief Financial Officer. Many businesses start out with a part-time CFO. There are many highly qualified professional CFOs with years of experience who provide this service. They can help with strategic planning, obtaining financing, interfacing with investors, providing training and support for your other financial staff, and helping you look at your business in new ways.</p> <p>Good financial management has saved many floundering businesses, and the ability of a professional CFO to analyze the situation, provide projections, and model alternative business plans can go a long way towards satisfying lenders and investors if things get tough.</p> <p>You&rsquo;ll know you&rsquo;re on your way to success when you are able to hire a full-time CFO to oversee all of the financial management responsibilities of your business. In addition to allowing you to focus on other parts of the business, a good CFO will serve as your partner in driving business success and creating long term business value. Enjoy the journey!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joanne-berg">JoAnne Berg</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/who-should-handle-your-business-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-an-accountant">How to Hire an Accountant</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Small Business Resource Center accountant CFO hiring professionals small business Sat, 29 Jan 2011 21:09:20 +0000 JoAnne Berg 473715 at http://www.wisebread.com The Difference Between Your Accountant and Your Financial Planner http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-difference-between-your-accountant-and-your-financial-planner <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-difference-between-your-accountant-and-your-financial-planner-nora-dunn" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-difference-between-yo...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-difference-between-your-accountant-and-your-financial-planner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000204910XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-difference-between-your-accountant-and-your-financial-planner" class="sharethis-link" title="The Difference Between Your Accountant and Your Financial Planner" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Many business owners surmise that their <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business-lynn-truong">accountant</a> can do the job of both accounting and financial planning (or vice versa) when in fact, the two roles complement each other. Neither professional can do the entire job of the other.</p> <p>When I was a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), I prided myself on the designation which took me years of both study and professional experience to earn. I boasted a broad base of knowledge that included some pretty intricate tax planning idioms and strategies. When it came time for me to file my taxes, I obviously knew more than enough to get the job done well.</p> <p>However, in developing a repertoire of accountants who I could recommend to my clients, I figured the best way to recommend a professional is to attest to their service from experience. I took my (already drafted) taxes to the accountant for filing and in 20 short minutes, he worked his magic to save me an <em>additional </em>$3,500 in taxes. I'm not sure what I missed or what he did, but it sold me on the concept that accountants and financial planners offer complementary roles to business owners.</p> <p><strong>What Your Accountant Can Do For You</strong></p> <p>Quite obviously, the buzz word for accountants is &quot;taxes&quot; and everything to do with taxes. From strategizing to sheltering to budgeting and tax preparation, this is their main focus. This is also quite a broad category that encompasses so much more than what appears on the surface.</p> <p>If your business is still small, or if you are a whiz with numbers, you may wonder why you need to spend money on an accountant. Your tax preparation software is intuitive, and your situation is fairly simple, right? (Hey, I thought so too.)</p> <p>What your accountant can also do is identify big picture opportunities and strategies that will help you get &mdash; or stay &mdash; ahead. Are you depreciating all the right assets in the most productive way? Is your business structure good for you now and in the long run? How does the fine print in the most recent changes to tax laws affect you, and are there any opportunities therein? Your accountant should have a deep knowledge of these issues.</p> <p>Here are some of the issues an accountant can help you with:</p> <ul> <li>Tax preparation</li> <li>Financial statements</li> <li>Depreciation</li> <li>Breakdown of expenses</li> <li>Appropriate tax shelter recommendations</li> <li>Tax laws and how they affect you</li> <li>Business structure recommendations and advice</li> <li>Business growth and succession strategy in relation to taxes</li> <li>Audit representation</li> </ul> <p>Accountants generally charge an hourly fee for their advice, and thus are quite task-oriented. You will usually need to be specific about how you want your accountant to help you, but their breadth of knowledge can be deep.</p> <p><strong>What Your Financial Planner Can Do For You</strong></p> <p>If accounting is all about taxes, then financial planning is all about investments &mdash; but just as accountants can offer so much more than filing your taxes, so too can financial planners do more than invest your money.</p> <p>Financial planners are also (ideally) focused on the big picture, but the picture in question is a little different from the one accountants look at. Financial planners are very goal-oriented and holistic, with an eye to building wealth in the most effective manner while taking into account the life goals and needs of clients as individuals. For business owners, financial planners often provide a more comprehensive look at how your business fits into your life overall &mdash; both from a logistical perspective as well as an emotional one.</p> <p>Similar to accountants, financial planners are experts in their field and will identify opportunities that you might not know about even if you're well-read and financially savvy. Have you thought about how the dynamics of your family would affect your business in the event of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance? What is your <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/where-is-the-business-going-succession-planning-points-for-consideration-nora-dunn">business succession plan</a>, and are you maximizing succession opportunities? Are you truly invested within your comfort zone while maximizing your opportunities for growth? Can you take the (sometimes irrational) emotion out of investing to make the best decisions for you and your family in the long run?</p> <p>Here are some of the things your financial planner will focus on:</p> <ul> <li>Budgeting</li> <li>Investing (short, medium, and long-term, in a variety of vehicles)</li> <li>Asset allocation</li> <li>Estate planning</li> <li><a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/insurance-overview-for-small-business-owners-nora-dunn">Insurance planning</a> (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/disability-insurance-payments-and-pitfalls">disability</a>, <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/life-insurance-for-your-business-nora-dunn">life</a>, investment, shareholder protection)</li> <li>Changes in the industry that affect you</li> <li>Business structure and strategy tips</li> <li>Wealth accumulation and protection</li> </ul> <p>In contrast to accountants, financial planners can be paid in a variety of different ways. The three main forms of payment are commission-based, fee-based, and asset-based. Commission-based planners earn a percentage commission on money you invest with them or insurance policies you buy. This unfortunately means that not all commission-based planners may have your interests at heart, but not all commission-earners are to be judged as pushy salespeople. Fee-based planners will charge a flat fee for a set service, and asset-based planners charge a percentage of your overall assets invested with them. In choosing the best advisor for your needs, asking how they are paid is important but not solely pivotal.</p> <p><strong>Gray Areas</strong></p> <p>You may find a financial planner or accountant who seems to provide the whole enchilada. For example, increasing numbers of accountants are broadening their expertise to include additional designations in financial planning so they can do just that; separate advisers, financial planners and accountants have many overlapping areas of knowledge and advice.</p> <p>While it may be appealing to have an adviser who can provide one-stop-shopping for you, your business, and your family, I still support the idea of creating a financial team to support you &mdash; specifically your accountant, financial planner, and lawyer. Each of these experts has a broad base of knowledge and will bring a viable perspective to the table that can also keep the other advisers in check. Each of these fields is an entire degree unto itself and should be respected as such. No one advisor can truly do the job of all three (or even two) without letting something slip through the cracks.</p> <p><strong>What to Look for in a Financial Planner and Accountant</strong></p> <p>When looking for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-you-need-to-fire-your-financial-planner">financial planner</a> or accountant, the best way to find somebody you will trust is to get a referral. Ask family, friends, and colleagues who they use and schedule a meeting with that adviser.</p> <p>They should provide the initial meeting free of charge and should take an active interest in getting to know your comprehensive situation &mdash; both personal and professional. Ask how accessible they will be when you need advice and what their proposed service strategy is.</p> <p>Look for a professional with a designation or degree, such as the internationally recognized Certified Financial Planner designation. Ask how they're paid; if it is an hourly wage (as is often the case with accountants), get an annual estimate given their knowledge of your situation.</p> <p>Also, make sure the professional in question is familiar with specific legislation that might be applicable to your situation. For example, if you have an <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/things-to-consider-before-uprooting-your-business-nora-dunn">international or location independent business</a>, your accountant should be an expert on international tax law and your financial planner should know how best to structure your assets to be internationally accessible.</p> <p>By building a team of experts who support you and your business, you stand the greatest chance of achieving everything you want, professionally as well as personally. You work hard on &mdash; and in &mdash; your business. Aren't you worth it?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-difference-between-your-accountant-and-your-financial-planner">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/coworking-spaces-the-office-alternative">Coworking Spaces: The Office Alternative</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center accountant financial planner small business Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:42:08 +0000 Nora Dunn 218466 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business-lynn-truong" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/how-to-choose-an-accounta...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002116286XSmall.jpg" alt="Choose an accountant" title="Choose an accountant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Small business owners often overlook the importance of having a good accountant on their side. The role of the accountant doesn't have to be limited to tax preparation. He can be a valuable adviser for your business year round. Here are some things your accountant should be involved in for your small business.</p> <h2>Taxes</h2> <p>This is the area of expertise your accoutant should know backwards and forwards. Get an accountant who has a lot of small business clients &mdash; even better, a lot of small business clients in your industry. There are a ton of tax laws and codes, and the more experience your accountant has in your particular industry, the better he can help you optimize your tax planning. He can advise you on common practices and keep you up to date on recent developments. He should also be monitoring your business growth, and be able to advise you on options as you grow. For example, he may recommend that you change your business structure (from LLC to C-Corp) if it looks like you can see significant tax savings based on your earnings. You should also be calling your accountant before you make large purchases or enter into lease agreements to see what options are most beneficial to you from a tax standpoint.</p> <h2>Money Management</h2> <p>Beyond tax considerations, your accountant should be able to advise you on all aspects of your financial planning and management. He can be a sounding board when you are considering an investment for your business. He can guide you through financial hurdles. Whether you have a problem with <a href="http:// http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218396076;41475586;v?http://www201.americanexpress.com/sbsapp/FMACServlet?request_type=alternateChannels&amp;lpid=298&amp;openeep=17460&amp;ccsgeep=17460">cash flow</a>, credit, or collecting money due, your accountant should be the first person you call before taking any action. In addition to your business finances, you can go to your accountant for personal finance advice. Because he knows your business so well, he can make good recommendations on how you should save or invest your own money.</p> <h2>Employment Laws</h2> <p>From labor laws to benefits, your accountant can help you navigate through all the rules and regulations required of employers. Once you have employees, you'll need to find out about <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/money-saving-strategies-for-workers-compensation-julie-rains">workers comp insurance</a>, health and retirement benefits, and payroll taxes. If you're not ready to have a full fledged Human Resources department, your accountant can fill in. It can get complicated, and it'll be wise to have an accountant ready to guide you, especially as your business grows. For example, some employment laws only apply after you have a certain number of employees. It's important that someone is on top of the various phases of your business, and sometimes it's just nice if it doesn't have to be you.</p> <h2>Numbers Analysis</h2> <p>Numbers are a second language to accountants. You don't have to be good with numbers if you have an accountant. He can look at your sales figures and determine profitability. He can verify that your debt vs. equity ratio is appropriate. He can be a resource to help you compare your benchmarks within the industry. He can provide profit forecasts, cash flow projections, perform annual audits. These reports can help you greatly in monitoring and optimizing business performance and growth.</p> <h2>Business Financing</h2> <p>A good accountant is invaluable if you are seeking capital. He can help you evaluate various options available for business financing. He can read your financial statements and tell you exactly what your lenders are looking for. He can prepare you for the questions you'll need to answer and the documents you'll need to prepare. Additionally, it's likely that he'll have access to resources and contacts that will give you an edge for obtaining the best financing.</p> <p>As tax season rolls around, you may want to give more thought to building a relationship with your accountant, or shop around for one who can provide expert advise for your small business.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "gold"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-choose-an-accountant-for-your-small-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Taxes accountant small business Sun, 21 Feb 2010 18:00:31 +0000 Lynn Truong 5083 at http://www.wisebread.com