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Questions & Answers

Frequently Asked Questions 

Frequently Asked Questions about hiring a Certified Public Accountant.

Why hire a certified public accountant?

Certified public accountants must pass a comprehensive examination covering accounting practice and theory, taxes, commercial law, and auditing. After passing this exam, CPAs also attend continuing professional education courses to maintain and expand their knowledge base. 

In addition to meeting the profession's high technical requirements, CPAs are governed by a code of professional conduct one of the most exacting of any profession. The code emphasizes the CPA's commitment to serving and protecting the public interest. 

How can a CPA help my business?

Today's certified public accountants are highly qualified professionals who bring a broad spectrum of knowledge to their work. It's no wonder then, that more and more CEOs rely on the CPA's highly developed analytical abilities to help strengthen their bottom line. As valued members of your management team, CPAs bring a unique combination of skills and insights to business.

CPAs perform a variety of services at all levels of business. The growing range of responsibilities undertaken by CPAs is a result of the growing recognition that CPAs are well-rounded business professionals. The breadth of services reflects the determination of CPAs to apply their technical knowledge and business experience to their clients' many and changing needs. 

How can a CPA help my family?

Any change in lifestyle, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or an inheritance, can signal the need for financial advice. By enlisting the aid of a certified public accountant, individuals can arrange their financial affairs to preserve and increase the assets available now and in the future. 

Whether planning for retirement or saving for a child's college education, your CPA can help. As tax advisors, CPAs prepare tax returns for individuals and assist them in developing their tax-planning strategies. 

How do I find the CPA that is right for me?

The West Virginia Society of CPAs offers a free CPA referral service, as well as a list of questions to ask a potential CPA

Questions to Ask a Potential CPA 

Questions for Individuals 

How long has your firm been in business?
Ask yourself, do you prefer a firm that has an established record or a new firm that is developing their best customer list. 

Do you offer a consultation and is there a charge?
Many firms offer a free initial consultation and should be able to given an estimate of the fees for the services you require. 

Can I contact any of your current clients for a referral?
A reputable firm will be willing to provide you with references. 

What education have you completed recently that keeps you up-to-date in your area of expertise?
CPAs who have an active certificate to practice public accounting are required to complete a specified amount of continuing professional education. CPAs receive education credit by attending courses, writing articles or by teaching. 

Which professional organization in addition to the West Virginia Society of CPAs are you a member of?
CPAs who are members of their local and national associations take pride in their profession. They acknowledge that as a CPA they represent not only themselves but the profession as a whole. Professional associations provide opportunities, tools, training and the resources for CPAs.

What other certifications are held by CPAs in your office?
The importance of this question will depend on the type of services you need. Look for the following (this is not intended to be an inclusive list): 

  • MBA – Masters in Business Administration
  • CFP – Certified Financial Planner
  • PFS – Personal Financial Specialist
  • ABV – Accredited Business Valuation
  • CFE – Certified Fraud Examiner
  • CBA – Certified Business Appraiser
  • MCBA – Master Certified Business Appraiser
  • MBT – Masters of Business Taxation
  • CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst
  • RIA – Registered Investment Adviser 
Questions for Small Business 

Are you looking for expertise and industry knowledge of your business?
Ask what experience and what percentage of the CPA practice comes from other clients with a similar business. 

What is your hourly rate and what charges can I expect for questions I have throughout the year?
A reputable firm will be able to provide you with this information. 

What computer programs do you prefer your clients to use for record keeping?
Using a program the CPA is familiar with can save time and money on your billings. A CPA firm will also be able to help you in setting up and maintaining computerized bookkeeping. 

When was your last peer review and would you be willing to show me the report?
Public accounting firms who perform audits, compilations and reviews are required to have a peer review performed every three years. The peer review is designed to ensure that firms have adequate quality control systems.