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What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Accountant?

What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Accountant?

Your business is important. Though it may sometimes be difficult to distinguish between different accounting firms, this is a decision that will affect your business more than you might think. An involved accountant that gives your business the attention it deserves can help you with more than just “the numbers.” Accountants can help you plan for your business’s future, help you save for your personal goals, and have your back when the unexpected happens.

As accountants who advise business owners, we can provide you with good questions to help you determine if a potential accountant meets your needs. We can separate these questions into three major categories: expertise questions, pragmatic questions, and questions about core values. Just in case you’re considering partnering with us, we will provide our own answers to all these questions!

Expertise Questions To Ask a Potential Accountant

Does your accountant know what they’re doing? This may sound like an obvious question, but we would like to take a minute to acknowledge that sometimes it’s not clear. It can be difficult to assess the expertise of someone who has specialized in a different field than yours. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. How long have you worked with therapists?
    1. We have worked with therapists consistently since 2017. That’s five years of specialized experience!
  2. What’s your biggest piece of advice for therapists in private practice?
    1. We recommend therapists do these three things!
  3. Are there any common mistakes you come across?
    1. Remember to pay your estimated taxes! Aside from that, it’s important to keep track of your business income and expenses and to keep them separate from personal expenses. If your QuickBooks has been collecting digital dust, we offer a custom-tailored cleanup service to get you back in the game! See our blog post about common mistakes.
  4. What kinds of certifications do you have? How much experience do your employees have individually?
    1. All of our accountants have a CPA license, an EA license, or are in the process of earning one. The exception is our Executive Assistant Heather.
  5. Are there questions I should be asking you that I have not?
    1. Our answer here of course depends on what you’ve asked us so far!

Pragmatic Questions To Ask a Potential Accountant

Your accountant may be an expert in their field, but are you able to work together on a consistent basis? Some business owners like to have an accountant they can meet at certain times, or the ability to consistently work with the same specialist. Plus, it’s important to meet your accountant at a price point that works for everyone involved. Here are some questions you can try out:

  1. How frequently can you meet me, and for how long?
    1. We have a policy to respond to emails within 48 hours of receipt, and we have availability for phone or video appointments. We charge for our time depending on the support plan you have selected with us. [Special note: During the busy season, which is from about mid-February until April 15th, our availability is much more limited than during the rest of the year.]
  2. Will you be able to focus on my needs, considering your client load?
    1. Our policy is to work on your needs as long as we can, until we need additional information from you. Please help us help you by sending all documents requested as promptly as you can.
  3. Who will work with me on my account?
    1. Each of our clients gets two staff members assigned to them. Usually, that includes Toni and another specialist. Heather handles our administrative tasks. See our team page for information on all of us!
  4. How many clients do your employees work with?
    1. Our employees work with around 100 clients, though the bulk of these is during tax season. For ongoing work, it is around 35 clients per employee.
  5. What do your prices look like?
    1. We provide quotes for each type of service we offer. You can see our pricing page here.
  6. How do you come up with your pricing?
    1. We use a combination of labor costs and expertise, along with our tacit knowledge of how long something will take, given our experience with other therapists.

Core Values Questions To Ask a Potential Accountant

The nature of business has changed in the 21st century. You may already know how wrong it can feel to work with a business that has opposite core values, and how right it feels when your business partner believes in some of the important things that you also believe in!

  1. Do you pay a living wage to your employees? Do your employees have a good work-life balance?
    1. Yes, and our employees work a standard work-week year-round of around 35 hours. The industry average for public accounting firms is closer to 60 hours a week from January to April, and again in September and October!
  2. Why is your employee work schedule so different from other accounting firms?
    1. We believe that the unbalanced, unsustainable work schedule at most public accounting firms leads to burnout and is unhealthy for employees. Work-life balance is important to us, we encourage our staff to have a life outside of their job!
  3. Is TL;DR Accounting LGBTQIA2S+ friendly? Do you allow your employees to truly express themselves?
    1. Yes! Many public accounting firms display, shall we say, a very “conservative” aesthetic. At our firm, we believe in encouraging our employees to show up as their authentic selves!
  4. What is your culture like at TL;DR?

As you can see from our Pac-Man loading screen and our colorful job titles, we celebrate nerd-dom and geek-dom and all that it entails! If you have a minute or two at the beginning of a consultation with us, tell us what your favorite video game is, who your favorite D&D character was, or your favorite bad sci-fi movie. We love all of this because we live it!

TL;DR: We hope that this list of questions can help you find a great accountant who works well with the particulars of how you run your business. If you like our answers to this list of questions, consider contacting us: We would love to help you achieve your business goals!

P.S. Want to learn how to manage your money better as a therapist? Now you can learn directly from Toni Cameron, CPA with our new on-demand webinars! Check out our most popular webinars here.
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Toni Cameron, CPA

Business Consultant, CFO Services, "The DM"

Toni is an accountant by day and gaming geek by night. As an accountant, Toni’s focus is dedicated to people like you — individuals, nonprofits, and small business owners. Toni’s adamant about taking care of all the things you just don’t have time to because she understands the value of a proper work-life balance.

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