Enhance Your Relationship with Your Accountant in Three Simple Steps
It’s no secret that these first few years of the 2020s have brought forth seismic change in business; however, there’s one change you might not be aware of yet: the rapidly growing shortage of accounting professionals. In December 2022, the Wall Street Journal summarized the situation: “More than 300,000 U.S. accountants and auditors have left their jobs in the past two years, a 17% decline, and the dwindling number of college students coming into the field can’t fill the gap.”
Such a shortage could create burdensome circumstances for business owners. So, exploring ways to build a more synergistic relationship with your accountant now can make for a better future for both of you.
Tip 1: Reduce your accountant’s administrative time.
One of the easiest ways to improve your working relationship with your accountant is to reduce the amount of administrative work required to manage your account! Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
- When gathering paper information for your accountant, scan and convert it to PDF. Then upload it to their secure portal.
- Many accountants use software that includes optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which helps automate the categorization of transactions. PDF files are typically easier for this technology to read than image files, so save your files accordingly.
- For multi-page documents, combine all pages into one PDF file. Conversely, avoid consolidating separate documents into one PDF.
- Use your customer portal instead of email if one has been provided to upload documents.
Tip 2: Be mindful in communications.
Good communication is an essential part of the accountant-customer relationship. A great customer will take the time to read any emails or correspondence and answer all the questions in the email (not just the first one!). They’ll also keep their accountant informed as they prepare to make financial decisions, like hiring a new employee, making a capital investment, or moving their money to a new bank. Proactive communication can help your accountant provide timely information so you can make intelligent business decisions. It can also help both of you avoid messy (and costly) cleanups.
Both you and your accountant may have preferred ways of communicating, among the choices of text, voice, and email. Keep in mind your accountant has a higher duty to protect your private information. Text and unencrypted email can be problematic for them, particularly when sensitive information is being conveyed.
You can make your communication more efficient by saving non-urgent questions for your next meeting together. As a result, you’ll be able to cover much more ground in your sessions, and your accountant will appreciate fewer emails in their inbox.
Tip 3: Vet any advice you hear first before contacting your accountant.
Be wary of unsolicited advice and tips you might see on social media. They can be uneducated at best and downright fraudulent at worst. One of the most prominent examples we’ve seen involves ERC mills. These companies have sprung up to “help” small businesses claim the Employee Retention Credit from 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, most of these companies are not following IRS guidelines and do not have the credentials to evaluate the tax law properly. And if you’ve been working with an accountant the entire time, chances are high that they’ve already helped you acquire any ERC funds your organization is eligible for.
Lastly, social media sources can be chock full of unreliable information. For example, TikTok and Instagram have some outrageous financial claims going around. If it sounds too good to be true, or you suspect the video was created by someone who is not a qualified or licensed accounting professional, take the information with a large grain of salt and speak with YOUR accounting or tax professional before acting on any advice you hear.
Improving the way you work with your accountant ultimately benefits everyone involved. By reducing your accountant’s need for administrative work, being mindful in your communication, and vetting advice you hear first, you can create a mutually beneficial relationship with your accountant that ensures a lasting, productive relationship. Remember, as your accounting professionals, we want to support your business goals and help you succeed!