What Should I Expect From My CPA?

Dave Cain | September 24th, 2013

As a small business owner, you may have started your business because you have a passion for your particular business/industry or you may have had the desire to “take the plunge” and be your own boss. Income taxes, payroll or financial reporting were probably not anywhere on your list of top reasons to own your own business. However, these three items along with many others fall under the umbrella of accounting services, and require the training and expertise of a CPA. So, since your business needs these services, what should you expect from a CPA? 

Basic expectations of your CPA

The answer to this question may be a little more complicated than you may think. Usually, your relationship with a CPA starts out as a vendor, and you both agree upon what services the CPA will provide. At this point you should expect to receive high quality service at a fair price. Timely customer service, unsolicited suggestions or recommendations may be a bonus to you, but are invaluable as you begin to trust and confide in your CPA. Soon you’ll hopefully see a transformation of your CPA relationship from being just a vendor to a trusted financial advisor.

Trusted Financial Advisor

What exactly does “trusted financial advisor” mean? Before answering that, let’s breakdown accounting services you would hire a CPA for into two broad categories:

  • Compliance services: These services would include items such as income tax return preparation, payroll services, financial reporting. In other words, the items needed to stay in compliance with federal, state or local laws or requirements that may be imposed as part of a lending agreement for instance.
  • Value-added services: These services are not required, but are added to increase performance of your business or address special situations. Examples of these services may include assistance with your budgeting process, business valuation, review of new tax laws and the impact on your business, review of your business entity type and determine if appropriate, or a review of operations and assist with implementing a lean approach to gain efficiencies just to name a few.

While your CPA can be a trusted advisor providing compliance services, what naturally tends to happen (due to conversations with your CPA) is that value-added services occur because that is what is best for your business.

Additional expectations of your CPA

As you work with your CPA and progress to the level of trusted advisor, you should expect the following:

  • Your CPA contacts you for no reason other than to see how business is doing
  • You contact your CPA with an issue or idea because you need to talk through the issue or idea, and no one else in your organization feels confident enough to give an honest answer or challenge the idea
  • An article or email is sent to you from your CPA that starts with “I read this and thought of you…” or the CPA offers to provide a service for you not because he or she is looking to sell a new service, but because the CPA feels the service would be beneficial to your business and suggests the service for your consideration

You may start to see all of this while you build off the foundation established in the beginning of the relationship of providing a high quality service at a fair price.

Contact Us

In the end we all like to have reasonable expectations met and exceeded. So know your expectations, and then expect to have your expectations met. If you’re a client of ours, don’t hesitate to reach out to your point of contact here at the firm to discuss your expectations. If you’re not currently a client, but would like to get some more insight on this, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio accountants and business consultants are happy to share with you our experiences and provide advice for your current business needs.


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