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VIEWPOINT: Four Reasons to Use your Accountant Year-Round

By Denise Neamon

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The end of tax season is no reason for small-business owners to retire their accountant’s number until the new year rolls around. In fact, doing so can leave a business without critical counsel in even the best of economic climates — let alone one ravaged by the unpredictable impacts of a global pandemic.

Far more than just bean counting, the accountant’s role has been shifting to one of strategic advisor — an evolution that started long before the arrival of COVID-19. Business owners have begun to lean on accountants more than ever to help navigate a precarious and profoundly unfamiliar economic landscape. And if it wasn’t clear before the pandemic, it certainly is now that good accountants, with their understanding of business and operations, planning and execution, are capable of counseling on virtually any economic issue a business may face. Among other things, they can help with tax planning, budgeting, and investing, as well as offer strategies on how to manage cash flow. 

If you are not already using your accountant as a valuable year-round resource for your business, here are four reasons to start.

1. Accountants know the ins and outs of your business

A good accountant brings an understanding of business and operations to the table that often exceeds that of other professional partners. With that expertise and their firsthand knowledge of your business, they can provide guidance on critical matters that’s consistent with the specific needs and goals of your organization. A good accountant can assess how your business is doing, identify the factors that got you there, and help you create and execute a strategy to get you where you want to be.

2. Accountants bring solution-based thinking

If interactions with your accountant are limited to sharing numbers and reviewing reports, you’re not getting the most out of your professional relationship. Conversations with your accountant should be solution-based consultations — and they should happen on a regular basis. The more your accountant understands your business goals, the better they can help strategize for the future and propose solutions that make the most business sense for you.

3. Accountants know the latest regulatory requirements — so you don’t have to

In a constantly changing regulatory environment, compliance can be a real challenge for businesses. Your accountant, on the other hand, is continually monitoring relevant federal and state laws and regulations to stay current on the processes you need to remain compliant. And that means you focus your time and energy on operating and growing your business. 

4. Accountants offer diverse skill sets

When you are choosing an accounting firm, it’s important to look for one that employs qualified accounting professionals from a variety of backgrounds and advisory skill sets. Doing so ensures that you’re getting the best advice possible for any scenario your business might face, whether you need to increase profitability, maximize operational efficiencies, minimize organizational risk, or solve complex business problems stemming from regulatory-compliance issues.

Accountants have proven their value in countless ways over the past year, stepping out of their tax-advisory role to help guide business owners with everything from securing loans and applying for tax credits to transitioning to remote-work environments, restructuring their workforce, temporarily closing their doors, and safely reopening. And they did it all while navigating constantly changing guidelines and funding opportunities. 

While the pandemic itself will someday end, it has forever changed the business landscape. As business owners work hard to understand and meet the evolving needs of their customers and employees in the post-pandemic environment, the role of accountant as trusted advisor will be more important than ever.        

Denise Neamon is a CPA and partner with The Bonadio Group. Contact her at dneamon@bonadio.com.