How to Interview an Accountant for Your Real Estate Company

If you are interviewing an accountant or looking to engage an accounting firm’s assistance, you should know what you expect from them. That means you should be able to ask the right questions to get the right details to find the right accountant.

Why is this such a big deal, you ask? A real estate company is tightly tied in with their accounting department. The entire industry works like that. Having a good accountant justifies their CTC and saves your business so much more money in the long run. So having a good accountant means that this person will:

  • Find and leverage tax advantages
  • Be up to date with and follow the legalities of the tax code which are forever changing
  • Keep tabs on your transactions and internal accounting processes
  • Keep your financial record-keeping abreast with your finances

So you understand why it becomes so important to hire the right person. Once you shortlist two or three candidates, here are the answers you need to have next.

Basics:

  • The kind of businesses they have worked with.
  • Their specialization
  • Have they worked with similar clients before (similar to the field of your business)
  • Do they work for a bigger firm

Rev it up:

  • Years of experience backing them up
  • Are they CPAs or do they have any other qualifications (you don’t absolutely need to have a CPA for this job)
  • Services they can provide (Yardi/QuickBooks expertise, tax planning etc. If they are a firm, what SLAs can be agreed on).
  • Number of their clients owning income producing real estate.
  • Investment properties they themselves own and the type.

Tighten the screw:

  • Their capacity to take you on at the moment (time and capacity available for your business)
  • Who will be handing your books – the person you are interviewing or someone in their firm? What is their qualification?
  • What do you need to do for them to function optimally
  • Cost of their services and payment seasons – monthly, quarterly, annually
  • Their ability to help you save on tax
  • The contract of partnership – (you should be able to review it before you sign it)
  • Reference they can provide

Just because they come with a degree and have charming personalities those criteria alone don’t cut it. They are merely collateral benefits. What actually matters is their competency and ability to keep up. They need to be equipped with:

  • the right skills
  • be thorough in their filed
  • have an understanding of the real estate business
  • be organised
  • pay attention to detail
  • communicate well

God is in the details. But so is the devil. If your candidate is a stickler for minutia and is going to do exhaustive work, that is the person you need to hire as your accountant!

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