When meeting with my clients to review their retirement portfolios – on of the key questions I ask them is “When was the last time you met with your accountant to review your tax strategy and how it applies to their overall investments?” What I usually get is a blank stare and the response “I didn’t know I needed to do that”. My regular readers will know that I meet with my accountant every 90-days to discuss my current financial standing, i.e. YTD income, debts, savings, investments, and retirement plans and based upon those findings make the necessary changes or modifications to my retirement strategy. Especially with the news tax codes coming shortly it is imperative that meet with your account and start preparing for the inevitable changes that will most certainly impact your retirement.
Many of my clients will state that their accountant and/or tax preparer does not offer that service. If this is indeed the truth, then it might be time to find another accountant. Below are 3-general reasons or what I would call red flags that you may need to find a new accountant.
- He’s not responsive – no communication.
If you’re struggling to find and communicate with your accountant, then he’s not the right one for you! Your accountant, no matter how smart he may be, is not God. You are the client. He is the service provider. That means when you need service, he needs to respond. Fast. Every good service provider knows this, and every good accountant I know returns calls, replies to emails and answers texts.
They are, within reason, available for their clients, even on nights and weekends. They are good with technology. They have a support system in place — staffers, administrators, answering services — to make sure you know someone is there to help. Clients don’t want to hear that their accountant is “buried” or that it’s “busy season.” Competent accountants know that they’ll be busy between January and April 15, so they make sure they’ve got an infrastructure to accommodate that level of work.
My accountant is excellent. I have his cell phone number. When I call or text, he replies right away. That’s what people expect in 2017 — immediate gratification.
- Your Accountant is not giving you advice.
A recent found the #1 reason why people that own small to medium sized businesses leave their accountants is because they weren’t getting proactive advice. We may not be tax experts, but we’re not totally ignorant. We know that most tax returns can be completed with relative ease using software and a young staffer. We’re not paying our tax accountant to prepare tax returns. We’re paying him to give us tax advice. The code is complicated, and every business has its nuances. We’re looking for our accountant to find ways to reduce our tax burden. It is critically important that your accountant is advising RIGHT NOW how the new tax codes, though not set in stone yet, could affect you in the future!
- The price isn’t right
This does not necessarily mean that the price you are paying for accountancy services is high or low but whether you receive value for your money. It is a multifaceted issue that includes not only the amount you pay but also the level of service you receive.
Are your accountancy fees transparent? Do you know what your annual bill will be? Or do you keep receiving nasty surprises in the form of additional charges, for instance, for telephone calls, emails and other types of communication? The answer here may be that you overlooked the small print. If this is the case, try to renegotiate your contract. Should this not be possible, look for a new accountant.
I had the misfortune of having an accountant for many years that over charged me, never would review my current financial standing with me, had no advice to give me concerning my business, and then because of a lack of any type of a review process “in-house” or with me, prior to filing my taxes – made a bookkeeping mistake that resulted in an IRS audit. I had to pay him $14,000 to administer the IRS audit that he was responsible for. End result I was exonerated but I fired my account.
Douglas J. Sedam
The Paseo Financial Group, Inc.
27413 Tourney Road #140
Valencia, CA 91355
Phone: 661.295.2400 #1
Toll Free: 866.549.3900
Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Western International Securities FINRA/SIPC. The Paseo Financial Group, Inc. and WIS are unaffiliated companies.