In each person’s lifetime whether they own a business or not there will come a point in time where some type of financial guidance will be needed. Often times people will resort to checking out online financial services such as QuickBooks, however, these types of accounting software can’t always provide guidance for your unique situation. This is where a Certified Public Accountant comes into play. These individuals are accounting professionals who have passed the Uniform CPA examination and have also met additional state certification and experience requirements. The moment you start to become confused with anything regarding finances you should consider hiring a CPA. They are able to help with not only general accounting but can also help with taxes and other financial functions.  

These two lists should help you decide which type of accountant you need.

An accounting firm (outside accountant) usually handles the following accounting functions:

  • Tax return preparation
  • Preparing financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash
  • Analysis or problem-solving advice

For small businesses or sole individuals it is more common to hire an accounting firm because this option will likely be less expensive.

An inside accountant  usually handles the following accounting functions:

  • General ledger/chart of account maintenance
  • Responsibility for daily transactions
  • Financial statement preparation and analysis
  • Cost accounting and variance analysis
  • Treasury and cash management including bank reconciliations
  • Payroll and fixed asset accounting

After deciding which type of accountant fits your needs it is important to consider the following attributes and make sure that your accountant falls into these listed standards:

Industry Experience

If an accountant has experience in a field similar to yours it will mean that they have more knowledge pertaining to how to deal with your financial situations and needs. This is why it is important to look for someone that understands your business and is willing to share with you how they have dealt with other clients in your same industry in the past.  

Open and Honest

When hiring anyone it is important to make sure that the individual, or the firm is open and honest with you about their skills, services and prices. It is key for them to be able to state what they are both good at, and not so good at, so you have a better understanding of what they can do for you and how they can benefit your finances. If at any point you feel as though an accountant is not being truthful about their abilities then you should most likely stick to your gut and look elsewhere. Their overall goal should be to save you money not to make money so make sure to choose someone who tries to put your interest above their salary.


Depending on what you are looking for, often going with a larger well known accounting firm is the way to go. You want to make sure you are getting the services that you pay for so do not be afraid to ask questions or go with a smaller firm if you feel more comfortable working with someone who is perhaps local.

Business References

Always make sure to gather opinions and information from other individuals and businesses that the firm or individual accountant has done work for. This will help you get a better idea of how good their services are and see how they have helped other individuals and businesses succeed.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are key to success so it is crucial to make sure your accountant knows how to properly communicate with you and the other people you work with. Accounting has a variety of jargon that will often be confusing if it is not explained to you. This communication can help you get a better understanding regarding your finances as well as make you more open and comfortable to discuss these finances with your accountant.


Hiring an accountant is an important step in circumstances involving questions on finances. Understanding the key aspects to search for in an accountant can make sure that you hire the right person for your needs.