With the 12 businesses I’ve owned and operated around the world, I’ve come to understand the importance of finding a good accountant. For example, I have an accountant in Australia for our day-to-day company business, an accountant in the USA for our day-to-day company business, a specialist international accountant in Munich to assess our position globally on a quarterly basis, and I have commercial transactional specialists on hand in both countries for any complex deals.
As complicated as that sounds, it really boils down to the following when I’m selecting an accountant for my business:
Know your accountant’s purpose. Over the years I have learned that ‘one size does not fit all’. Many will have a specialty, so doing your due diligence on what that specialty is, is important. Your day-to-day business accountant may not have the depth of skills to assist you with an important merge, acquisition, or sale of your business. On the other hand you don’t necessarily need to employ the heavyweights for the preparation of your day-to-day bookkeeping.
Professionalism. I do a lot of research on the firm. In particular try and find out about their relationships not only with clients, but also with the IRS. After all, they are going to be the go-between on a number of issues so you want to know they have a good reputation and healthy level of respect with both clients, and the taxman, so they can navigate that relationship.
People. After we have selected a firm then I look to find the right person IN that firm to deal with. I need to feel a connection to those I work with. Given the complexity of our business I want the feel they ‘get me’ and what we are trying to achieve. A deeper understanding for why you do what you do also tends to help them get closer to your business and the outcomes you seek, even before you prompt them.
Proactivity. I don’t want to be the guy that is constantly coming up with new ways to approach things and calling my accountant saying, “Shouldn’t we be doing…?” I want a guy that calls me to say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about….” I’m not the smartest guy in the room so I also rely on my accountants to take a broader view of our position and highlight areas we should be looking at, or reconsidering, in relation to efficiency, effectiveness, and profit. If they are truly analyzing the quarterly reports then they should be spotting gaps and helping us plug them.
About Troy Hazard: I am the founder/owner of 12 businesses over the last 25 years, current CEO of Troy Hazard International, author of the book Future-Proofing Your Business, and the former Global President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. I have been a franchisee twice and a franchisor while consulting with over 300 brands in 6 countries. You can find me on Twitter @TroyHazard.