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What do the Best CPAs want their Clients to Know?

I am writing a two part series for our cost reduction newsletter and would welcome your insights to the question: What do the best CPAs want their clients to know.  The target audience is chiefly (not exclusively) mid market CFOs and owners of privately held companies.

I've received great feedback from my linkedin CPAs, would be glad to get feedback here from the best of the best CPAs who see themselves as more than just "tax preparers" or "auditors". 


P.S. I am not a CPA nor do I work for a CPA firm.

Thanks, Kirk


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I make the same caveat (Not a CPA or a CPA firm).

The best CPA's work on two elements in tandem with the ownership and CFO in mid-market.

1. Preserving Cash (executive compensation)
2. Exit strategies

By focusing in on number 1, you help the company grow by blanching the burn rates and in turn make the business more attractive for suitors which enable both the CPA firm and the business owner plan for a lucrative exit.

Hunter Garcia
Title: CFO
Company: Adams accounting firm
(CFO, Adams accounting firm) |

No matter what method you've used, you should make a objective statement to prove the financial situation of the company is “real and credible”.
Objective. That is, the certified public accountants have to be in neutral. No partiality for accountants themselves (it seems that the accountants against the client company on purpose and deliberately fault with everything) and also not just leave the company as it is (that is to say, when the manager says their company's statement of account have no problem, then accountants do not check).

Topic Expert
Randy Miller
Title: Partner
Company: CFO Edge
(Partner, CFO Edge) |

When I was a CFO for entrepreneurs and PE companies, what I wanted to know from/about my CPA was:
1> Are they technically competent in my industry, and is the staff assigned to my company up to date on accounting and tax developments;
2> Are they proactive during the year with tax and accounting issues, and;
3> Are they willing to be a partner by working with us as the company grows.

Kirk Conole
Title: Partner
Company: DCI Solutions
(Partner, DCI Solutions) |

I appreciate the feedback as I will use it in a follow up to a previous article, "What the Best CPA's Want You to Know." and sent it to middle market companies and players.

For the first article, I interviewed 5-6 partners of CPA firms serving the middle market here in So Cal and used their responses, to produce the first part of a two part article "What the Best CPAs Want You to Know." See below...

1) They are visionaries, strategic business advisors, and door openers, not just tax and historical financial statement preparers. Does your CPA's firm specialize in your industry and use technology to better align your business for the future? Does your CPA network you into business opportunities and steer business-building resources to you regularly? If so, you should value him/her more than you would a run-of-the-mill tax preparer.

2) The Big 4 firm wooing you with you a low first-year rate to win your business might make sense if you are planning to go public but be clear regarding your expectations of personal attention from the partner. In any case, expect higher fees in the 2nd and 3rd years.

3) The vitality of the CPA's firm can be gauged in part by the amount of sustained organic growth and the flourishing companies they have served.

4) You can value the CPA according to how responsive and helpful the firm's senior leadership is to you in the critical moments when your partner might be unavailable. A firm that retains long-term quality individuals who understand the dynamics of your situation and respond well to you with a variety of tools is one you may want to keep long term as well.

Kirk Conole
Title: Partner
Company: DCI Solutions
(Partner, DCI Solutions) |

What are the more common reasons then for a company to change CPAs? Is it because they don't perceive the CPA equal to the task or is it more over price considerations these days?

John Boyer
Title: Staff Accountant
Company: Confidential
(Staff Accountant, Confidential) |

I have witnessed three major reasons for switching CPAs.

1. Price, as you said.
2. The previous accountant missed or mishandled an item.
3. Difficult to get a hold of.

Price is a no-brainer. Our service is not a commodity good and if our clients are basing decisions strictly on cost, they shouldn't be surprised by sub-par service. I have seen businesses switch CPAs because IRS notices showed up for legitimately missed items. Lastly, I have heard people say they just couldn't get a hold of their last accountant and felt unimportant.

In response to your other questions, and the item I use to market myself, it is important to look for a CPA that is not just looking to do your tax/ consulting work but is looking to improve your business. CPAs have the luxury of seeing the internal workings of all sorts of business structures, ideas, and processes across multiple industries. A great CPA can draw new conclusions based on the variety of information they have viewed across industries and help clients reach best practices.

Wray Rives
Company: Rives CPA PLLC

1. We do have more to offer than signing your audit report and filling out your tax return. You Mr. CFO have likely worked with 5-10 different companies during your career, we have probably worked with a few hundred, some of which may offer a new perspective on your issues.

2. We are sorry if you don't like the answer, but if we do our job correctly sometimes we will be keeping you out of trouble not telling you what you want to hear.

3. We are not selling a commodity. Not every company is going to be a fit with every CPA firm, as we all have different personalities and value propositions. Even though we may appear boring, we are not homogenized milk.

Kirk Conole
Title: Partner
Company: DCI Solutions
(Partner, DCI Solutions) |

What things can a CPA say that the client can use to objectively verify the value that the CPA brings to a Client? I do like Wray's post.


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