A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation represents that your accountant has gone through specialized training and passed extensive education and evaluation requirements. However, not all CPAs are equivalent.

Accountancy holding paperTo assist you make this judgment call, begin by asking these few questions:

1. Have you fulfilled all the requirements to be considered a Licensed Public Accountant in my state?

The initial step when vetting a CPA is to figure out whether or not they are a licensed CPA in your state. You can address this question by yourself through your state’s professional licenses website. You can find a list of CPA institutions by state online. Make certain your Certified Public Accountant is up to date with their requirements and are not suspended or inactive.

2. How many years experience have you had as a CPA?

The road to being a Certified Public Accountant is marked by years of education and training, so even a freshly minted Certified Public Accountant won’t be completely inexperienced. But it’s still best to select a Certified Public Accountant who has significant hands-on experience as a practicing Certified Public Accountant.

3. What is your financial know-how in?

There are a number of Certified Public Accountant areas of expertise, including Guarantee and Attestation, calculator and pencilCorporate Funding, Corporate Governance, Estate Planning, Financial Accounting, Financial Evaluation, Financial Planning, Earnings Tax and auditing. Also Management Consulting, Performance Consulting, Tax Preparation, and Planning, or Venture Capitalism. Ensure your Certified Public Accountant is well-versed in the area where you require the most help.
4. What are your hours and availability? What type of contingency exists if I am audited?

Make certain they can meet with you when you are available (i.e. do they only operate during business hours when you are also at work? Are lunch meetings feasible?). You’ll want to make sure that they’ll be responsible in the case that you are audited. Otherwise, you’ll need to reverse engineer their work in order to respond to all the IRS’ concerns.

These few questions need just to get you started. Select your CPA and make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in their experience and expertise.