When a client hires an accountant, they want to feel that they are important and a priority for their accountant, but many times people make the mistake of hiring the first (or cheapest) accountant they can find.
Not everyone strikes gold with their first accountant. Whether it’s impatience with super delayed responses or expanding to an area of expertise their accountant doesn’t have, there are a ton of individual reasons people might change accountants.
Five Reasons People Change Accountants
In the decades we’ve spent working as CPAs, we’ve received many new clients who are in the process of leaving another accounting firm. Sometimes this is due to frustrations, while other times it has to do with industry expertise and services.
Here are the 5 most common reasons we see people change accountants.
1. Poor Customer Service and Missed Deadlines
Without a doubt, the #1 reason we get new clients that are unhappy with their previous accountant is due to poor customer service—and poor customer service almost always ultimately leads to missed deadlines (and sometimes penalties).
Most people will excuse or put up with unreturned phone calls, being re-asked the same question over and over again, or having to Google filing deadlines, because finding a new CPA is a headache, and will only move after that less-than-stellar customer service results in a fee or fine.
Put another way, people’s trust in their accountants will waver with bad customer service, but one missed deadline and in an instant, people lose trust in their CPAs and decide to move on.
It’s absolutely reasonable to want an accountant you can trust, who can (and does) offer advice and expertise specific to your business, and makes you feel like a priority. You don’t have to settle for less.
2. Their Business is Growing, But Their Accountant Can’t Take on More
Many accountants begin working with their customers when they have just launched their companies (sometime between Year 1 or Year 3), and are great in the early stages of development, but not set up to offer more services when their clients’ businesses grow. Some one- and two-person firms just don’t have the resources to take on or even offer services like payroll, budgeting and forecasting, or truly anything beyond yearly tax help.
Here are just a few common circumstances:
- A client needed to switch to quarterly filing, but their CPA didn’t want to because it was “too much of a headache”
- A business owner’s one-person LLC grew to become a corporation with full-time employees, and the small firm didn’t have the resources to manage payroll, equity, and bookkeeping
- Expansion outside of the U.S. required a CPA who understood both tax systems
- The CPA didn’t want to get involved with crypto investments and income
You might find your CPA simply because you need to set up your Quickbooks and put together an initial budget, but if you grow to need day-to-day bookkeeping services and management or want to hand over payroll, it’s important that your CPA has the time to take this on. Sometimes, your original accountant just doesn’t offer the services you need, and that’s okay. But, if you’re looking to change, make sure you look ahead to what other services you might need in the future—even if it’s just having an expert you can ask about payroll.
3. Their Accountant DOESN’T Come up with New Solutions
We see this one all the time—the client has been doing all the research and making suggestions about business entity structure, future-proofing their businesses, and analyzing their finances to provide to the accountant, not the other way around.
So many people think they have to hire an accountant because they just don’t know how to update their ledger and reconcile and categorize their business expenses, and settle for less. But, there’s so much more an accountant can do for you!
The difference between a good accountant and an accountant who just gets the job done often boils down to looking at their client’s scenario with both a detailed view and a birds-eye view. Some accountants just want to make the updates and not think about the big picture.
We see clients all the time who had no idea they could lower their tax burden significantly just by contributing a little more to their 401k every month—even after years of paying an accountant for help. It’s only when people realize they’re just cutting a check and not only that they are not getting personalized solutions and suggestions, but that they should be getting personalized solutions and suggestions that they move on to a new accountant.
4. Lack of Industry Expertise
This is a big one—all accountants are not built the same. There are so many different industries and professions, each with their own idiosyncrasies and specific needs when it comes to ongoing accounting, entity structure, and employment. During our initial exploratory consultations, we see all the time people who are tired of explaining to their current accountant the specifics of how their industries work and how that impacts their accounting needs.
Here’s an example: We work with lots of people who own and run real estate businesses. Some of them are house flippers, some own and manage multiple rental properties, and some are in commercial real estate and construction. Something we offer that CPA firms that don’t specialize in real estate don’t is an out-of-the-box approach to entity structure. This saves our clients thousands of dollars on taxes, and because we understand the nuances of how W2 employees vs. independent contractors in real estate operate, we have templates to follow for how we manage payroll.
We specialize in a lot of industries, not just real estate (e-commerce, crypto, and cross-border just to name a few).
Industry expertise is often something people overlook (or, sadly, assume they won’t be able to find) when looking for an accountant. But, if you can switch to a CPA who knows your field, there will usually be not just financial benefits, but an ease with not having to explain how your profession runs.
5. Their Accountant Doesn’t Adapt to Change
This has been especially common in the past few years, but it’s nothing new. Many accountants are still asking for paper copies of receipts instead of digital, won’t offer virtual meetings, or don’t offer online payment options. Who wants to drive across town to drop off documents that could be photographed and uploaded through an online portal, right from the comfort of their living room?
We get these kinds of new clients every. single. year.
“My accountant refuses to learn about crypto regulations and wallets.”
“I’m dealing with an illness and can’t do in-person meetings, but my CPA is impossible to get ahold of on the phone.”
“I don’t want to have to deal with a giant file of paper receipts anymore.”
We will be the first to admit that sometimes, our industry runs a little behind, but it’s not unreasonable to expect your accountant to learn about new payment options, offer virtual meetings, and use updated software (and we don’t just mean updating Quickbooks!)
People will 100% start exploring better solutions when their accountants are unable to provide such flexibility or adapt to change.
There are many reasons you might find yourself looking for a new accountant, but the important thing to remember is that all accountants are not the same! It’s important to understand what your needs are now and in the future, what’s important to you in a CPA, and what you simply aren’t willing to tolerate when you are looking for a new CPA.
Whether it’s an issue of your business scaling, industry expertise, or just wanting an accountant who returns your phone calls, know that you’re not the first person on the hunt for a new accountant (and that you certainly won’t be the last).
If you’re struggling with your current CPA and are curious about Akif CPA, we recommend checking out our services.