Trinity is home to a thriving business community, and many companies (and even lots of individuals) can benefit from the services of a certified public accountant or CPA. Hiring a CPA for the first time can be a challenge, especially if you’re uncertain about what an accountant does and what questions to ask. So in today’s article, we’ll explore the basics of what an accountant does and what questions to ask if you’re hiring a CPA.

CPAs receive their certification from The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy or NASBA, which administers a challenging exam to prospective CPAs. There are also a number of other requirements. For instance, prospective CPAs are required to obtain an accounting degree in some states, while in other states, you only need to obtain a certain number of college credits (usually, around 150).

CPAs are also subject to a background check because “good moral character” is a NASBA requirement.

Each state issues its own CPA certification.

CPAs must undergo periodic certification renewals too. In most cases, accountants are required to undergo some form of continuing education, such as college classes or a professional enrichment workshop.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a CPA

Trinity companies and individuals should be prepared to ask a number of important questions when hiring a CPA.

It’s wise to begin with questions about the accountant’s experience. You may also wish to request (and verify) the accountant’s processional references, in addition to verifying that the CPA’s certification is both valid and current.

You should also ensure that the CPA offers the services you require because accountants can deal in a vast range of different tasks and specialties, from general accounting and financial planning, to consulting and tax planning, to business finance, assurance, auditing and beyond. Accountants may also specialize in a particular niche, such as forensic accounting, information technology or IT accounting, international accounting or environmental accounting.

Another pertinent question concerns fees and billing. Your CPA may charge an hourly rate, while others may have flat rate fees for specific tasks or projects.

In the case of a business, you may wish to have a confidentiality agreement drawn up prior to starting work with the CPA. Trinity CPA clients may wish to opt for a confidentiality agreement if the accountant will have access to sensitive financial information in the course of their duties.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Suncoast CPA Group*

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