How Often Should You Meet With Your Business Accountant?
Once you engage a business accountant, the next question you may face is how often should you meet with them. The answer, as with many things in business, depends on your situation. What does that mean for you? Here are four of the most common meeting schedules between small businesses and their CPAs so you can pick the right one for you.
Most accountants do not recommend that a business wait to meet just once per year — usually at tax time. This causes difficulties for both the accountant and business owner. The business hasn’t checked in to ensure that it has properly remitted sufficient taxes, so it may end up with an unexpected tax bill. In addition, the cost of preparing taxes may be higher because no preparatory work has been done.
The CPA also cannot get to know your business, so they will be of limited help. Many transactions and business decisions throughout the year have financial consequences, but meeting too infrequently means your accountant can’t help you make the right calls.
A semi-annual meeting schedule may be right for a mature business. The ideal candidate for this schedule would already have established bookkeeping processes in place and skilled employees or bookkeepers who follow them diligently. The business may also have communicated with their accountant through email or phone calls during the year on smaller matters.
If you meet only twice in a year, your summer or fall meeting should review operations so far and expected changes in the back half of the year. You would want to go over all taxes to ensure they are being remitted properly. And your accountant may give you a checklist to prepare for tax season.
The most common schedule for getting together about business finances is quarterly. The reasons are both financial and practical.
A quarterly meeting allows you to meet often enough that the CPA gets to know your operation and can answer your questions. These meetings also coincide with quarterly tax payment schedules and accounting cycles, so you stay on top of responsibilities. And errors in your books don’t build up so long that they’re too embedded to fix. However, you also aren’t meeting so often that the cost is burdensome.
Monthly (or More) Meetings
Don’t feel that you can’t meet with your CPA more often than is standard, especially at important junctures in your business growth. This is very common — and useful — when your business is just getting started. You may need help setting up the company books, choosing and using software, training employees to do transactions, registering with agencies, and learning about your accounting obligations.
In addition to when you’re getting started, you may also consult with your accountant more often during a period of rapid growth, a big change (such as setting up online sales), adding a new location, considering a merger or new partner, or when you first hire employees.
The common denominator in these moments is that you may need to make big decisions or many decisions in a short time frame. The best results will come when you have regular contact with a financial professional who can answer any of your questions, big or small.
Decide What’s Right
Clearly, businesses in different places in their life cycles have different needs when it comes to accounting. If you’re new or unsure, you may opt for more meetings. An established or stable business, on the other hand, may meet less often. And the schedule can change from year to year.
Want help finding the right plan for your particular enterprise? Start by meeting with the accounting pros at Monheit Frisch CPAs PLC today.