Professional accountants and management consultants practice as sole practitioners, in association or in partnership. Your choice will depend on the nature of the work required and the costs for the professional's time. Another important factor is the type and size of the engagement.
Many practitioners specialize in specific areas of professional practice or certain industries or size of businesses, which may offer economies of scale to potential clients. In any event, all professional accountants and management consultants, to some extent, have experience in accounting, auditing, finance management and business matters inter alia and they adhere to a code of ethics, which is enforced pursuant to the charter of their professional association and/or institute.
The selection process can be made through simple recommendations by business associates or through inquiries of other professionals of different disciplines or assessment of the practitioner(s), during personal contact with that person.
When the list has been narrowed down to a few candidates, several initial inquiries must be made, namely:
- Ascertain if the practice or firm is taking new clients;
- Determine whether the practice or firm is capable of performing the required work within the prescribed time frame;
- Ascertain the basis for fees and in particular hourly rates
for different levels of staff;
- Ascertain if there is a nominal fee policy and in particular as it applies to an initial interview; and
- On arrival at the professional's office, assess the helpfulness of the receptionist and the promptness of the practitioner(s), in order to determine whether you could be comfortable in such a setting.
Once in conversation with the professional, it is paramount to consider the following fundamental issues:
- Does the professional have experience with your type of business?
- After describing your immediate needs, does the professional make comments and suggestions that indicate an understanding of your type of business?
- Will the practitioner(s) do the work personally or will a staff member perform the duties? In some instances the practitioner(s) with whom you speak may only review the work performed and present it to you.
- Will the practitioner(s) under consideration give you references of current clients in a similar or related line of business? Check these references as to whether the professional is accessible, meets deadlines and does the work within cost estimates.
- Is the practitioner(s) open to the use of specialists? A practitioner(s) should be willing to seek outside advice (from other professionals of different disciplines) if warranted by your business affairs and circumstances.
Choosing a professional accountant and/or management consultant is a major business decision. This professional is one of your most important business advisors who should become an integral part of your business. This person must be someone in whom you can confide without any concern about confidentiality. The advice and recommendations of the professional must be understood by you in order for implementation (where applicable) of the appropriate corrective measures. In short, your professional accountant and/or management consultant is someone of devoted duty and industry with which you must develop a solid relationship based on mutual trust.