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9 Common Problems Businesses Have with Accountants

April 26th, 2023 | 6 min. read

By Brian Paulson

Working with an accountant offers many benefits, but it can also create problems. If the relationship between your business and your accountant isn’t dynamic, it won’t be as constructive as it could be.

Accountants aren’t known for their customer service skills. A lot of them would much rather deal with numbers than people, but you confide almost everything about your business to them, so they need to be someone you trust.

CSI Accounting & Payroll has worked with small businesses for over 50 years, which is much longer than most accounting solutions! We've found long-term success by hiring accountants who care deeply about client success and have excellent interpersonal skills. Only these reliable types of accountants can provide the full value of accounting.

So, how reliable is your accounting service? Here are nine of the most common problems businesses have with accountants. While each point may not be a dealbreaker for you, you should consider switching providers if several apply to your accountant.

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1. My accountant is always late.

Depending on the level of accounting service you use, you may not get to meet with your accountant very often. Plus, most accounting solutions charge you by the minute for their time.

So, how are you supposed to feel when they're consistently late? Probably pushed off, unimportant, and neglected. Accounting isn't anyone's favorite thing to talk about, so when you're showing more effort in this realm than your accountant, that's a major red flag.

2. I can never reach them by phone or email.

If this point is paired with your accountant being late for your meetings, the pain here is doubled. Losing time to discuss your questions and concerns in meetings should at least mean that you should be able to reach out afterward, but this is not the case for many accountants.

A quality accountant knows that if you reach out with questions about decisions, their job is actually easier. Guiding you in the right direction year-round makes for a much easier tax season and a much better potential for growth. The best accounting services will get back to you quickly and at no extra fee when you reach out via email, phone, or even text.

3. They don't listen to me or understand my business.

Accounting is more than an expense for number crunching; it's an investment in guidance. If your accountant isn't willing to listen or steer the conversation toward understanding your current situation, then they're not bought into a major aspect of the value of accounting.

There's also a difference between not caring enough to understand and just simply failing to understand. If your accountant is confused by your business practices, finances, or industry, you should find a different accountant who has the experience to help you.

4. They charge too much for what they provide.

When it comes to accounting, the question isn't the price - it's whether or not you're ready for a higher level of accounting, plus whether or not your accounting solution is providing enough value at its price point.

If you can't afford an in-house accountant, you may want to consider an outsourced monthly accounting service. If you can't afford an outsourced monthly accounting service, you may want to handle your own bookkeeping and just work with an annual tax accountant. However, each of these solutions offers a different level of value as well, so make sure the price and value are aligned.

5. I don’t understand them when they give me financial advice.

This is a point that is missed a lot. We've all met someone who uses larger words than they need to in an effort to sound more intelligent, but true intelligence is being able to code switch and speak to your audience.

With the stakes being so high, don't glaze over terms that you don't understand; ask for clarification or move to an accountant who speaks your language. Arrogance is the last thing you want in a relationship with your accountant.

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6. They are too busy and inaccessible.

Your accountant is great! They say that you can reach out as much as you want! However, when you do that, you reach an inbox every time. If you're lucky enough to hear back at all, it's rarely within a couple of days. Sometimes you don't even get confirmation that they received your message.

The fact of the matter is some things are time-sensitive and can't wait for guidance. Partner with an accountant who either answers immediately or reaches out within a day to let you know they're working on a solution that may take some time.

7. I am too small for their accounting firm.

Finding the right accountant can be tricky. Many accountants open their doors to anybody - even individuals who just want personal tax work done - and their lack of client specialty bogs them down. If you're lucky enough to find an accountant who specializes in businesses, they're often incentivized to prioritize the big guys (with the bigger fees) over your business.

It's rare to find an accounting service that only works with small businesses, but it's worth it.

8. I don’t actually know what they do for me.

This can be a combination of the points about confusing language and not providing enough value for the price. While you may not understand accounting, if you're paying for a service above just basic bookkeeping and annual tax preparation, you should have an understanding of any service they provide beyond the numbers that are documented on paper.

9. I think my accountant should do more.

If you feel that your accountant should be doing more, then you either don't think that they provide enough value for the price, they don't respond to your questions or concerns, or you're unsure of what they do actually provide.

Regardless, this is something you should bring up with your accountant. Ask them for the service you're seeking, and if they are dismissive or say that they can't offer what you're looking for, then it's time to move on.

Work With a Reliable Accountant


If more than one of the points above apply to your accountant, then you can’t rely on them. You pay them to be your guide and resource, so you should be able to call them with any one-off financial questions and get expert advice when you need it.

All of the points above can make you feel neglected - and the only way around that is to partner with a reliable accountant. Even if you’ve worked with the same accountant for years, you shouldn’t put up with poor customer service and a lack of transparency.

To propel your business toward future success and growth, you need an accountant truly committed to meeting your needs. Many small businesses find this in monthly accountants - like CSI Accounting & Payroll. If you would like a free consultation with us, please click the button below:

MEET WITH AN ADVISOR

Not ready to talk? That's okay! First, learn more about when you should start working with different types of accountants instead.

 

Brian Paulson

Brian began working at CSI in 1996, and he purchased the business in 2002. As Owner, his primary role is in the management and growth of the firm. Since 2002, the firm has more than quadrupled in size. In 2009, Brian started CSI’s payroll service to complement CSI’s accounting and tax services. Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, with a double major in Accounting and Financial Management. He’s a member of both the National Society for Tax Professionals and the National Society for Accountants, and he serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants, where he was once president. Brian also serves on the business advisory council for Opportunity Partners, an organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. He’s also contributed to several business books, including Six Steps to Small Business Success and The Lean Mean Business Machine. Fun Fact: To help put himself through college, he used student loans, delivered pizzas, and worked summers in a salmon processing plant in Alaska.