3 Questions Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2009

Jim Kaufman has worked with Kaufman, Rossin & Co. since it was founded in 1962 and is the founding and managing principal. His primary responsibilities include audits, litigation services and securities practices. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and was recently inducted to the University of Florida Hall of Fame.

Q. In a struggling economy, how can a business get the most from its relationship with an accountant?

I think the key shift there is to go beyond the core services most people think of in relation to their accounting firms, to get past the compliance aspect of financial reporting and tax compliance, and to expand the relationship and increase contact. A trusted adviser is really the ideal relationship between an enterprise and its accountants. I think the better accountant professionals can probably be of greater value now than when things are comparatively easy and booming, as we experienced through 2008. It’s complicated.

Q. What information should a company share with its accountant?

The more information provided, the better the quality of the advice. It is very similar to a relationship with a doctor. And sometimes, just like in health issues, some financial issues are less comfortable to share. But the more you share, the better the quality of advice. The one thing that is so unique about our profession, especially in a practice of some breadth and size, is that we see so many operations — so many entrepreneurial operations coping with the same issues of this economic challenge — that we are able to see what the best and worst practices are. Having that accumulated knowledge, of seeing what works and what doesn’t work, makes us really a unique resource.

Q. How can an accountant save money for a company?

It draws on best practices, and best practices are usually related to strengthening the sales effort, looking hard at weaker aspects of the business, developing strengths, shutting down the less vibrant areas of activity, looking hard at personnel costs, occupancy issues, the cost of money and the nature of the financial approach. The whole spectrum of operations can be examined.