How to build a winning relationship with your accountant

News flash. Building strong, trusting business relationships is essential for long-term success.

Okay, maybe that’s pretty obvious, but it is certainly easier said than done. At least in the U.S., business systems are built around a sense of competition. And that competitive fire can lead to dog-eat-dog environments where ethics and relationships are jettisoned in favor of profits.

That approach won’t work well when establishing a relationship with your accountant. A strong one, built on mutual respect and trust, can yield substantial long-term benefits for your company. Weak ones can send your business dreams into a tailspin.

Fortunately, establishing a good relationship with your accountant isn’t difficult. Follow these steps to build rapport and profits.

Understand the role of your accountant

Business owners often tend to view accountants like mechanics, someone to fix problems when they arise.

Accountants are professionals and experts, but they can also be trusted business partners. So, establish a set of guidelines and expectations about how often to touch base with your accountant and let them know you are open to their advice.

Above all, keep the relationship ethical. Nothing can turn off the spigot of good advice from an accountant faster than a business owner that asks them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable.

How ethics help

Accountants should expect good behavior from their clients. Asking them to cover up things or not giving them all the information they need to do their job correctly hurts the relationship and is terrible for business.

Because when your books are solid and transparent, it builds trust with clients, investors, and employees alike. That helps you separate your business from the competition and establish your brand as one people want to seek out.

Good books and good accountant relationships also increase profitability because you can see what is happening in your business. Also, your accountant feels comfortable giving you advice. Both of those things are key ingredients to increase business and revenue.

 You should have expectations, too

Business relationships are a two-way street. So, while your accountant should expect to be treated professionally and ethically, you should have expectations as well.

Clarity and transparency are two things you should expect. A good CPA will let you know what they need from you, when they need it, and why. If they request a document, you should walk away with a good understanding of if it was just a routine request or if something needs your attention.

You should also expect your CPA to help keep you out of trouble. A good CPA will keep up with accounting laws and ethics, asking questions and raising concerns if something seems amiss.

Finally, you should expect your CPA to have the heart of a teacher. It’s easy to make mistakes in business. And when you do, you need someone to constructively explain how to fix it and avoid it in the future.

So, there you have it. A little understanding and a little communication can go a long way in helping you get not just an accountant but a trusted advisor who can help your business grow.