As 2016 draws to an end, many people start to gather their financial documents together, take stock of the year, and engage in year-end tax planning. In fact, quite a few of them find that they are dissatisfied with their accountant or CPA and wonder if it’s time to reach out for a new one, or at least a second opinion. Respectfully, we have many new clients who come to us just for a second opinion and learn that a “second pair of eyes” can often find opportunities that other CPA’s have missed.

Here are seven signs you have outgrown your CPA firm.

  1. Complexity. Doing a tax return for an individual who has nothing but W2 income is easy – witness the proliferation of big box tax services. But doing a tax return for a high net worth individual, and/or a person with business interests and/or a person with international interests can be beyond the average accountant. If you’re too complex for your CPA, it’s a sign you’ve outgrown him.
  2. Late Filings. A CPA firm that really understands tax, and really understands its clients, tries to stay on time. If year in and year out, your CPA firm insists on filing for extensions that’s a sign of disorder. Especially if you’ve done your part and gotten your information to him on time.
  3. Missed Opportunities. The tax laws are getting more – not less – complex, but that means that there are more missed opportunities than there were in simpler times. If your CPA insists on filing amended returns, or you find out some new tax savings and have to explain it to him – well, that’s not a good sign.
  4. Business vs. Personal. If you own a business, or your business starts to grow, it may be too complicated for the average CPA firm. You want a CPA firm that can see your business interests and your personal interests and manage both when it comes to taxes.
  5. A Growing Business or a Growing Net Worth. Less affluent people have simpler taxes – that’s a fact. But if your business is growing, or your a start up, or your family is growing and you have more net worth… you need a CPA that can grow with you.
  6. Inexperience with Technology. We live and work in San Francisco, arguably the center of technology. Your CPA firm should be well-versed in technology such as online filings, the online exchange of information and even the use of technologies like WebX to conduct meetings. If you live and breathe technology, so should your accountant.
  7. Poor Communication. Finally at #7, we come to the most important aspect of the CPA / client relationship: communication. It’s your job to provide decent financial information, bookkeeping, etc., and it’s the job of your CPA firm to understand accountant, tax, and finance. Regular and thorough communication is a must!

If any of these signs give you cause to wonder, then a second opinion is warranted. Often it’s your “gut feeling” that will drive you to a new CPA, not some esoteric point of tax law. After all, you’re not a tax expert. A second opinion from a person or firm with real expertise can really “open your eyes.” Reach out to Safe Harbor LLP today for a second opinion!