In the accounting industry there are a lot of practices that offer services such as bookkeeping, advisory, tax and financial statement preparation. However, not all accountants are equal. A main differentiator is a having a professional designation. The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is obtained via having a university degree coupled with examinations and practical experience. To take it a step further, some CPAs have additional training in a specialized area such as tax or assurance.
As a CPA running an accounting practice, I am held to a high standard to protect the public interest and follow regulations. This is done through mandatory practice inspections every three years and meeting yearly professional development requirements. These requirements hold us accountable to our clients and allows us to continue to grow our knowledge base as CPAs.
I have worked with some great accountants that did not have a designation. These accountants obtained a lot of practical experience working alongside CPAs. However, before hiring an accountant you should ask them a couple questions:
- How do you stay up-to-date with current tax and accounting issues?
- How often do you attend courses, webinars or listen to podcasts on tax and accounting issues?
- Have you had your files examined to ensure they are in accordance with standards?
These questions are really important when considering hiring an accountant without a designation. Although they are allowed to prepare compilation financial statements, how are they being held accountable other than preparing a tax return with potential CRA scrutiny?
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