18 Alaska Business | September 2018 www.akbizmag.com
Hiring an Accounting Firm
function be ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It can
also be easier to pay an outside accountant one
hourly rate, whereas hiring an employee
includes the payroll, benefits, and human
resource administration and costs associated
with that employee.”
Using contracted accounting services
often boils down to cost versus need, says
Kelly Ward, CPA, CGMA. Many of Alaska’s
smaller and seasonal businesses cannot
afford to have a full-time accountant on
staff. However, those that are able to hire an
outside accountant can reap significant benefits.
“CPAs, in general, have to have continuing
education, so you’ve got someone staying up
on the tax reform accounting… A lot of times
they have multiple staff, so if your normal
accountant goes out of town, you have some-
body else on staff who can pick up,” says Ward,
co-owner of Robinson & Ward in Fairbanks.
When hiring a contract accountant, Ward
says, business owners should look for the
obvious: those who are experienced and
knowledgeable about their particular indus-
try. It’s also important to find someone they
trust and feel comfortable with discussing
their needs. Ward says: “You want to have a
relationship with them throughout the year.
You don’t want to just talk to them when
it’s tax time… You want to have someone
you’re comfortable asking questions to. A
lot of times we don’t bill for those questions
here and there because we want them to ask
questions before they make a bad decision or
buy equipment they don’t need.”
Flowers recommends getting referrals from
other business associates before retaining
a contract accountant. Anyone can advertise
themselves well, but word of mouth is always
a great indicator, she says.
Like Ward, Flowers advises business owners
to search for someone who is responsive and
can answer their questions. “They may not
know all of the answers to your questions
right away, but they should be able to find the
answers,” she says.
“Reasons for contracting can include having a need for some
accounting assistance without having enough day-to-day
accounting needs to warrant hiring an employee to perform
those functions; the desire to have an expert handle the
accounting; or it’s a matter of not having the time or resources
to oversee that function, thus allowing an outside firm or
individual to have that responsibility instead.”
Firm Administrator, Altman, Rogers & Co.
Senior Tax Associate, Altman, Rogers & Co.
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