I’m sure I’m not the only doctor that has wondered if my CPA is actually at the top of his/her game. I was told by a friend who is a CPA that they spend the entire year making sure they understand and are applying the new tax codes correctly, only to face more changes the next year. He felt like he was always playing catch up. I want you to ask yourself:
Am I paying too much in taxes?
Are there tax-advantaged ways to sock away more money?
Am I getting proactive advice from my CPA?
If any of these questions were answered with “I’m not sure”, you may have the wrong CPA. It just seems like most of the dentists I bump into have a friend, family member, or just someone they met casually that is their CPA. The basis on which they chose this professional really came from proximity, not necessarily their level of expertise. As consumers, we are much like our patients. There really is no way to certifiably rate a CPA based on our limited knowledge of what they do, as well as what we should expect.
The American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA.org ) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession. It defines what a CPA should do and what skills they need to have. After reading this and 10 other posts on Google from other sources, I found myself wondering whom they were talking about. I have met maybe two CPA’s that actually do what the AICPA says every CPA should do. Here is what they said about CPA’s.
They are well-respected strategic business advisors and decision makers. They act as consultants on many issues, including taxes and accounting. A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a trusted financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals.
CPA’s should have strong communication skills including the ability to be a good listener. Problem solving analytical and research skills, personal skills (accounting is a serviced activity and you will have to work well with teams as well as one on one situations, must understand emerging technologies, high ethical standards, and broad business perspective.
Your CPA should be making business recommendations based on market trends and depth of knowledge in finance. He/she should be a very strong partner in order for you to take your practice to the next level. In other words, giving you a Profit and Loss Statement sixty (60) days after a month closes does not define a great CPA, and a good one is not good enough. You need a great one with an intimate knowledge of our dental community and business.
If you have these things going on with your current CPA, maybe a change is in order:
• It takes 30 days or more to get a Profit and Loss Statement and even that takes a call to get them to send it.
• Your CPA fails to actually look at and assess your financial monthly statements to correct a potential problem in the business trends of your practice.
• They never offer investment advice on equipment and/or practice acquisitions, or alert you to spending habits in your business outside those of a sound financial practice.
• They don’t have monthly or at least quarterly meetings to advise you on your numbers, overhead, and forecast for the year along with changes that would be important for your success.
• Have not approached you about ideal saving habits, spending habits, insurance needs, and long-term goals in your business.
• You have to ask them about strategies you have read from newsletters, books, and seminars yet they don’t even know what you are talking about.
• They don’t comment on previous years vs your current year.
• They don’t offer intelligent, aggressive tax advice on both a monthly and quarterly basis.
• They are not involved in your investment strategies when you look at your long-term goals. In fact, they don’t even know what your business goals are.
• They don’t work to help stage major acquisitions and sales.
• They are not constantly helping you appraise your goals in light of estate planning and exit strategies.
• They do not take the responsibility of educating you about your finances.
• They fail to inform you of information that would eliminate tax liability surprises.
• They do not have a specific in-depth knowledge of Dentistry through work relationships with many dental clients.
• They don’t have, nor do they offer, remedy and solutions for financial challenges in your practice and personal life.
• They don’t seem to be up to date on changing tax laws and seem to be struggling to stay abreast of the strategies and facts that would be necessary to properly serve their clients.
Certified Public Accountants are no different from dentists. We run a small consumer driven business where our clients and potential clients vote with their feet. The consumer decides whom they buy services and products from. Over the last decade or so, consumers have become more educated and, because of this, they demand a higher level of service and care than ever. We, as dentists, need to educate ourselves to insure that with any professional we work with, we demand the highest level of competency. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. Here is a great CPA. Don’t be surprised if he knows more about Dentistry than you do. You won’t be disappointed. Just tell him I told you to call.
Wallace Accounting & Advisory Services