Before you select an accounting professional, consider the following:

Keep in mind that a long-term working relationship between you and your CPA can help you take an informed, consistent approach to personal financial and business problems, and may help you meet your financial goals.

  • Is the individual a Certified Public Accountant
  • Is the CPA licensed to practice in your state?
  • Is the CPA active in professional organizations?
  • Does the CPA's expertise and personality fit your needs?

Don't underestimate the importance of the CPA designation.  Remember, those three letters are awarded only to those who have passed a rigorous two-day uniform national examination.  In Washington State, CPAs must pass an ethics exam, maintain their professional competency through continuing education and regularly take continuing educational courses on ethics.  Membership in professional organizations is also an important qualification.  For example, approximately 9,000 CPAs belong to the Washington Society of CPAs.  All WSCPA members are governed by a code of professional ethics which is among the most exacting of any profession.  Compatibility is harder to define but is just as important as technical proficiency.  Make sure that the CPA's personality and expertise match your needs.