The 5 Pillars of CPA Communication
Communication is the key to any good relationship. When I meet with prospects, I find that they are rarely considering moving on from their old CPA for proficiency. After all, we are continually educated, tested and trained. We tend to know our stuff. What I do find, is that it almost always boils down to communication. A good CPA does more than crunch the numbers in silence. Here are the 5 areas where communication with your CPA matters.
Does your CPA respond to your phone calls and emails in a timely manner? Your CPA should be a trusted advisor and resource for you all year long. Preparation of your tax return in the Spring should be culmination of planning and conversations you have had throughout the year. For clients, taxes are not typically an area of expertise, and when new issues come up in their finances, they seek guidance from their CPA about how to proceed. A good CPA understands that they need to partner with their clients to resolve issues as they come up and not present a roadblock to financial decision.
Does your CPA vanish into thin air after April 15th? Believe it or not, this is still an issue. You would think with the advent of technology that we would be even more available. Most CPAs take a break right after the major push, but that break shouldn’t last for the rest of the year. Many tax issues require advance planning, and a CPA who only appears in the first quarter of the year will be playing catch-up and possibly keeping you from important tax savings that could have occurred if tended to throughout the year.
No one likes being passed around from person to person in a firm. It is normal for a firm to have a team approach to client management, but that shouldn’t force the client to guess who to contact for what issue. Has your CPA communicated with you who your main contact is and how they work with the team assigned to assist you? The point person can facilitate communications with the rest of the team, making sure that the firm tends to all of the client’s needs.
You expect your CPA to understand all of the nuances of tax law and how they relate to your tax filing. But good planning involves making decisions, and most people want to feel like they understand their options. Does your CPA communicate to you in a way that you understand? Tax law is complicated, but a good teacher understands their audience and can relay that information in a way that allows the client to feel comfortable with their tax planning decisions.
Do you feel important to your CPA? Do they have a communication style that fits you? Are you comfortable asking questions and sharing information? Are they clear about next steps for you so that deadlines are not missed? It’s not enough to prepare tax returns. A CPA needs to understand the client’s bigger picture and consider how developments in tax law might impact their clients. Then they should contact those clients to offer information and suggestions. A CPA also needs to help the client stay on top of tax planning opportunities and requirements.
Communication with your CPA should be more than an annual tax preparation exchange. At the McGruder Group CPAs, consistent, productive communication is an integral part of our services. We want our clients to treat us as their tax planning and preparation partners, and we know this can only happen if we are available, accessible, and proactive. Contact us today for a consultation