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  • Writer's pictureJoe Minich, CPA

Thinking About Hiring an Advisory CPA? 3 Important Factors to Consider.

Joe Minich, CPA

1) The value/quality/scope continuum

First and foremost, think about value, in terms of both the scope of what you need done and the quality of the services. Generally speaking, these two factors drive the cost of outsourced accounting services.

First is the quality of the work, which is basically to say the level of the talent; their credentials, skill, and experience. This varies quite a lot. At the bottom of the cost spectrum, most behind-the-scenes work is being performed by staff overseas, increasingly with automation, and minimal higher-level review. Google "I need an accountant" and your top couple dozen ads and search results are what we are talking about here. Are you comfortable with that?

That may be fine for very small, uncomplicated businesses that just want to see their bottom line. As you get into more complicated tasks such as tax planning, budgeting, and strategic level discussions, that quality of service isn't going to work. I know I would feel more comfortable knowing highly qualified CPA's are handling the majority of my engagement.

The second factor in the value continuum is the scope of the work. What services exactly do you need and want to pay for? You need to think about the needs of your business. Some firms will attempt to upsell and package services that aren't going to add value to your business. A true advisor will listen to your needs and help tailor the perfect package to maximize the value to your business.

This can be confusing because services modern CPAs offer span a wide swath of business functions:


  • Recording transactions

  • Reconciling accounts

  • Producing financial statements


  • Preparing and filing federal and state income taxes

  • Tax projections and estimated payments


  • Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)

  • Budgets, projections, and forecasts

  • Tax planning and strategy

  • Modeling and scenario analysis

  • Risk management

  • Strategic planning

Business Process Outsourcing

  • Payroll processing

  • Accounts payable (bill pay)

  • Accounts receivable (invoicing and collection)

  • Sales and use tax tracking and filing

  • Cash and working capital management

Pinning down exactly what services you need is critical.

2) Specialist vs. generalist

When engaging an accountant it is important to consider if you need a generalist or a specialist.

Specialists develop their specialties much like doctors or attorneys. They build their careers around knowledge of complex industries, specific complexities in the tax code, mastery of technology, etc.

Much like doctors, the more specialized, the higher the fee.

On the other hand, many CPAs act more as generalists, with a broad knowledge of different industries, taxes, and business processes. Most generalists have specialists in their contact list and leverage their knowledge to better serve their clients when a complex issue arises.

3) Is it a personality fit?

Once you have figured out the scope of work and the value points you are looking to fulfill, possibly the most important consideration is finding the kind of people you want to work with. During the proposal process, you should be interacting directly with the professionals that you would be working with. Do you have similar communication styles? Are expectations clearly communicated? These trusted advisors will be working with intimate financial details that nobody but you, the business owner, knows. You need to know you can trust them completely and work well together.

Contact Joe today to discuss if Ridgeline might be the best accounting solution for your business:

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