What Services Are Provided by Accounting Firms?
You probably didn't start your business to process financial statements, spend hours researching tax compliance laws or worry about every detail of the deductions on your employees' payroll. The "business" side of business can sometimes drain you of the energy you want to direct toward your core services and products. When your revenues grow higher than $1 million, or you have more than a couple dozen employees, it's time to invest in professional accounting services, says Entrepreneur magazine. The services you can obtain from a professional accounting firm can be customized to meet your needs and can include basic day-to-day bookkeeping, tax services, auditing, management consulting, fraud investigations and can even serve as an outsourced chief financial officer to provide financial oversight for your small business.
From the Big Four (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young) down to small-business accounting firms, the main services offered include accounting and auditing. This means the company will produce financial records, track your revenues and expenses, and provide consulting on your business's overall financial health. The firm can help you with long-range planning, such as buying property or upgrading your infrastructure. It can also help you determine how to break even and what your cash-flow needs are. These services help you plan your next moves, figure out whether you are making a profit and make decisions about your company's growth.
Many businesses require a periodic audit of their finances. This might be a requirement of your investors or written into the bylaws of your incorporation. Accounting firms conduct audits by examining not only financial records, but also the processes and controls in place to ensure records are being properly kept, policies are being adhered to, and your financial practices help support your business goals and are the most efficient way to do so. The goal of an audit is to form an opinion on whether your financial statements are presented fairly and accurately, and in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices.
A popular specialty area, many accounting firms offer a range of tax services. The firm's accountants can help you figure out a new tax code to help ensure your financial reporting practices are in compliance with current IRS regulations, determine your company's tax liability, and make sure you meet filing requirements and deadlines. The firm will prepare your federal, state and local tax returns, and can also help you figure out how to reduce the taxes you must pay, making year-round tax accounting services convenient.
Many accounting firms offer business advisory services. It makes sense, considering they know your business environment, your tax situation and your financial standing. They use this knowledge to help you with your business plan, evaluate your current operations, identify new opportunities, alert you to changes in the business or regulatory environment, and offer practical advice to help your business be more efficient and successful. Accountants can help you figure out your insurance needs, how to grow smarter, how to time your moves wisely and how to make better financial decisions.
The offerings will vary by the firm, but if you're shopping for an accounting firm, consider choosing from among those who offer specialized services. These can include business valuation, which helps determine what your business is worth should you be considering a merger, acquisition or sale. A growing number of accounting firms offer information system services, which examine the integrity and security of your computer systems and the practices your company uses to process and protect information. If your business might be the subject of a legal dispute or you suspect something has gone wrong in your financial arena, consider a firm offering fraud and forensic accounting services, who investigate complicated financial documents to uncover any illegal or fraudulent activity.