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By Les S. Thompson, CPA, Les S. Thompson & Co., LLP

(Editor's Note: Managing partner Thompson uses these points in discussion with prospective clients to help distinguish his firm.)

Capability--Must have the training, expertise, and resources to do the job, to give advice, and provide leadership.

Reliability--Must be able to complete the assignment on time, resulting in no penalties due to delay. Final product must be credible and able to withstand challenges and questions.

Professionalism--Must belong to an organization (state or national society) that monitors competence and ethics; should be able to produce evidence of membership and competence.

Knowledge--Must be familiar with industry or show aptitude and willingness to learn the intricacies of the

Respectability--Must be respected by his/her peers and by professionals in other institutions such as banks, the IRS, and investment institutions. Must be able to assist you when you deal with these institutions.

Accessibility--Must be available on short notice to respond to problems and answer questions. May not be personally available at all times, but must have capable assistants with the authority to respond.

Compatibility--Must be easy to deal with; must respect you, your employees, and your customers. Must be big enough to provide adequate service but small enough to give advice relevant to your business.

Currentness--Must be alert to the constant changes in the laws, rules, and regulations affecting your business and industry; must keep you adequately informed of these changes and, when appropriate, apply them to your business.

Cost--Must not charge too little lest the job not be adequately done; must not charge too much lest it hampers your ability to fund the other parts of your operation.

Legality--Must meet the stringent requirements of the state to provide you the best advice and service. Must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed to practice in your state. It is the highest level of the profession. For your business's survival, only the best should be good enough. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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