Top 10 Reasons Businesses Fired Their Accounting Firms in 2017*
And How These Problems Can Be Corrected
- Lack of contact: Business owners reported disappointment that they heard from their CPA’s only when they contacted them with questions. Often, their accountant returned a phone call several days later.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: Quality CPA firms reply to their clients within a 24-hour window. Additionally, those with a “Consistent Client Contact” policy ensure regular contact with business clients.
- Surprises: Receiving the kind of surprises that were not welcomed, such as unexpected tax bills, accountant invoices and government notices (that the client was never alerted to) made this category a hot topic in 2017.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: Monthly financial statements and communication with a qualified business accountant greatly reduce these unwelcome occurrences.
- Fees: Charges for phone calls, meetings and even photocopies made clients feel they were being “nickeled and dimed to death” and discouraged them from wanting to contact their accountant.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: CPA firms that only charge on a “fixed rate” basis help both parties regularly communicate. This eliminates the fear of clients being charged for questions they may feel are not important, but lead to other, more significant questions.
- Lack of experience: Every industry has unique tax implications. If the accountant does not have a history of working in a particular field, much can be missed and was in 2017.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: Working with a business accountant is different than working with a general tax preparer. Be sure your CPA focuses their practice (and their time) only on working with businesses.
- Lack of value: For every dollar spent, a business owner needs to receive ten times the value in tax savings, growth and expert advice. Sadly, this was not the case for many last year and their accounting fees became an expense, not an investment.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: It is not mandatory for business owners to work with an accountant. But, for those that choose to do so, be sure the CPA is providing real value, not just filling out forms. Our Palmetto partners are pre-screened. You will know upfront, the strengths and capabilities of each partner.
- Receives no insight or explanation of tax returns and statements: Many accountants did not take the time to help their clients understand these documents that are vital to their business and personal success.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: Work with a firm that regularly discusses your numbers, as well as helps you learn how to read these reports. This will strengthen your business management skills.
- An uncaring attitude: Most accounting firms did the bare minimum when it came to compliance work and even fewer went beyond this. A common response from business owners in 2017 was “I don’t feel my CPA wants to know more about me and my goals.”
Palmetto Partners’ solution: Accountants that discuss your personal, not just your business, goals are better able to understand your desires. Then, they can help your company fulfill these.
- The accountant doesn’t help the client make more money: Tax savings are great, but income growth is even better. Additionally, most businesses rarely received referrals from their accounting professionals.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: A business accountant that helps to increase profit margins AND reduce taxes is invaluable.
- Delays and extensions: “My accountant never gets my tax return done on time” was a common complaint of businesses that worked with a traditional tax practice last year. Due to the glut of new customers that came in their door during tax season, it pushed many existing customers to the bottom of the pile to get their work done.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: CPA firms that focus on working with businesses on a monthly basis are less apt to cause delays for their clients.
- Failure of the CPA firm to grow with their clients: Over time, businesses change. If the accountant does not evolve with the service and communication needs of their clients, future success can be jeopardized. Sadly, this was all too common in 2017.
Palmetto Partners’ solution: CPA firms that stay current not only with tax law changes, but also with technology are best able to provide their clients with the cutting-edge resources needed to thrive.
*Information based on in-person meetings with 467 business owners, January thru December, 2017