Build a better relationship with your accountant Featured

1:10pm EDT May 2, 2011

Having a strong relationship with your accountant can help strengthen your business, so don’t be afraid to spend a little money to meet with them.

“Sometimes spending some money with your accountant to sit down and examine aspects of your business produces some large returns because sometimes there are some things that are happening that have gone for many years and the owner can’t see it because he or she is not objective,” says Mike Dubin, Philadelphia office managing partner for McGladrey & Pullen LLP.

Building a strong relationship requires ongoing communication and interaction.

“They have to have a relationship beyond just the business meeting,” says Don Misheff, Northeast Ohio managing partner for Ernst & Young LLP. “The presence of the informal relationship and informal interaction enhances the ability to have a working relationship beyond merely a formal relationship.”

Misheff says your accountant has to have a thorough understanding of your company’s culture and long-term business strategy. Sharing as much as you can about these helps enhance their ability to serve you.

Another way to build your relationship with your accountant is to approach tax planning as a year-round process instead of a once-a-year necessity.

“Tax planning is important throughout the year, and too many times, we don’t get to tax planning until the end of the year or we don’t get any at all,” says Donny Woods, president of the National Society of Accountants.

He says they look to the accountant to pull off some kind of miracle, and Steve Christian, managing director of Kreischer Miller in Philadelphia, agrees. He says he prefers having monthly conversations with clients, but at the very least, tax planning should start in the fall.

“That’s when all the planning and taking advantage of opportunities takes place,” Christian says. “After you get past the first of the year, when you get into the preparation phase, really all you’re doing is keeping score because any actions you had to take were during the previous year.”

Meeting with your accountant throughout the year to share projections and goals can help the two of you game plan to maximize opportunities and minimize taxes.

“Coming full circle, minimizing taxes enhances cash flow,” Christian says.

How to reach: Ernst & Young LLP, www.ey.com; Kreischer Miller, (215) 441-4600 or kmco.com; McGladrey & Pullen LLP, (215) 641-8600 or mcgladrey.com; National Society of Accountants, (800) 966-6679 or www.nsacct.org