12 Questions to Consider When Negotiating with Your Accountant

How to make the most of value-based service and pricing with a web-based accountant

These discussion questions are meant to establish a basis for a productive conversation that will help in negotiating the best service agreement with your new accountant. The responses are typically used by the accountant to develop a range of three service proposals from which you may then choose. Think of this as a standard level, enhanced level and elite level of service. This method of negotiating an accounting contract is generally believed to lead to a significantly higher level of service and satisfaction than the old-style hourly billing model.

General Questions

1) What do you expect from your accountant, and how do you see your accountant helping you address challenges and opportunities?

2) If price were not an issue, what role would ideally you want your accountant to play in your business and personal finances?

Business Plans

3) What growth plans do you have?

4) Do you expect capital needs? New financing?

5) Do you anticipate any mergers, purchases, divestitures, change in owners or reorganizations in the near future?

Level of Service

6) What are the service standards you would like your accountant to provide? Is a service guarantee important?

7) How do you prefer to interact with your off-site accountant: telephone, text/email, video chat?

8) What do you consider rapid response to accounting and tax questions? How important is rapid response to you?

Making a Smooth Transition

9) If you are changing from another accounting firm, why? What did you enjoy about your former firm? What did you not like about your former firm that you do not want us to repeat?

10) Are you concerned about any particular items of your asset, liability or income statement accounts to which you want your accountant to pay particularly close attention?

11) How do you suggest that your accountant can best learn about your business to best relate your operations to the financial information and be more proactive in helping you maximize your business success?

Budget

12) What is your budget for this service?

It should be obvious that the better the communication on these topics, the better the new work relationship will begin. Also keep in mind that business arrangements change, so be sure to revisit this discussion from time to time to keep the arrangement with your accountant on the most productive track. The questions are adapted from the Journal of Accountancy but you may wish to customize and substitute your own topics of importance.

If you are considering changing accountants, we welcome the opportunity to consider these issues with regard to your firm. Call (800) 609-0683 or find us online to schedule a conversation.

Need more information? Please let me know how to reach you for a free consultation. I serve clients across the country by phone or Skype or can meet in person in the Philadelphia region. Your contact information is not shared with anyone.

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