Choosing the right CPA for your business (excerpt)

By Martin Berman-Gorvine
Baltimore Business Journal, February 9-15, 2001
While financial software and information available over the Internet have made day-to-day fiscal housekeeping easier for many small businesses, CPA services are just as essential as ever. Certainly the sheer quantity of accountants has been rising, said Stephen Loeb, Ernst & Young Alumni Professor of Accounting and Business Ethics at the University of Maryland, College Park.
"The numbers have just exploded," said Loeb, who was chairman of the university's accounting department for 18 years and currently serves as historian of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants, Inc. (MACPA). The early decades of the last century saw slow growth, but "the explosion came in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Businesses have become more complex, and a lot more people need accountants." There are now 19,000 CPAs in Maryland out of 450,000 in the United States, according to the MACPA.
How is a small business to choose an accountant, from among this crowd? First check the obvious, according to a pamphlet put out by the MACPA: Ensure that you are dealing with a certified public accountant who is licensed to practice in your state, and one who belongs to and is active in professional organizations to help keep abreast of the latest trends.
Then, check out the firm's standing. "If possible, check out their reputation through inquiries with other businesses or acquaintances who might know them," suggested Pamela King Smith, president of King, King and Associates in Pikesville. Susan Huddy, vice president of Costello & Huddy Chartered in Montgomery Village, recommends making sure your prospective CPA "is someone you're comfortable with on the phone, because you're establishing a relationship that can get to be quite intimate. And make sure they have the expertise you need, that they really work with start-ups or small businesses."
Original article copyright © 2001, Baltimore Business Journal.
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