A CPA or certified professional accountant is a must for any business, small or big. They help you keep track of your liabilities and assets, and also enable you to capitalize on legal tax loopholes while meeting your fiscal obligations as a citizen and business owner.
As with any consultative exchange, it’s best to come prepared so that you can get the best out of your meeting. After all, time is money and you’re paying your accountant for her time with your money!
Be Prepared! Do your homework
What does it mean to do your homework? One important preparatory step that you can take is to do an actual physical inventory of your stock. Don’t just rely on what your computer system says you have; there is any number of reasons that the goods that you actually own, are at odds with what you had when you first acquired them.
Theft, both internal and external, and any incidental damage to your goods are two reasons why such discrepancies arise. Ascertaining the ‘actuals’ is essential to account for goods sold that financial year.
Be Prepared! With documentation
Make sure you’re armed with the requisite documentation prior to your meeting, particularly when preparing your company’s tax returns. Accounting firms typically have templates that you can use to collate and organize the relevant paperwork, such as receipts.
You could also request your accountant to furnish you with a checklist to help you determine what documentation you need to come prepared with. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of documents you will need to take with you, in order to get the most out of your meeting with your accountant:
- Inventory balance
- Bank statements from the end of the current financial year
- Bank records (including the general ledger account and the check register.) This will help your accountant to reconcile your accounts. Your bank statement will only reflect checks that have been cleared, not the ones still pending, which should be taken into account when preparing your financial statements.
- A list of assets (vehicles, property, machinery) bought and sold
- Payroll records
Along with the paperwork, be sure to tote key questions and discussion points along with you. As in any formal contractual situation, you have responsibilities as a client that you must fulfill—one of which is to participate in determining the health of your company’s finances. Here is a broad list of critical questions to ask your accountant when the two of you meet.
How can we continue to help my business grow? A good accountant should be able, not just to answer the question, but to come up with ways to make the financial system work for you. A good accountant will have in-depth knowledge of industry trends and of tax opportunities—like tax credits—that might be available to the niche that your company occupies. A meeting with your accountant doesn’t have to be physically, mentally, or financially taxing. As with all things commercial, make sure it’s productive instead!