“I really just need to focus on me right now.”
Changing your accountant doesn’t have to feel as painful or awkward as a bad breakup line.
In fact, this kind of thing happens naturally throughout the business’ lifecycle and it’s usually not personal. We find that clients knock on our door when one of a few things have been happening in the relationship with their current CPA:
And usually not just one or two. When repeated errors (and the subsequent letters and filings that go along with correcting them) become too much to bear, people start asking around.
For some reason, folks in this profession have a tendency to just ghost their clients. 👻 We’re not sure why, but if your accountant packs up and leaves town, or disconnects the phone, or maybe even has a very understandable reason for needing to step back from the business — it’s likely a good time to find another provider.
Response times are incredibly difficult to manage in our industry. Having enough staff on hand to field and respond to every customer inquiry can be a tricky game of calculus. But hey, we’re accountants, right? We know that CPAs taking too long to respond to their clients is the #1 reason people change firms, so we’ve made it a key priority to keep our response time to less than 24 hours, and we monitor that statistic closely.
There comes a time when you’ll outgrow the relationship you’re in right now and need to “level up” your provider to match your goals. Signs of this might be:
If you’re using a generalist provider instead of someone who really specializes in your industry.
If your CPA isn’t staying on top of changes, new laws, new programs, and actively helping you navigate them.
If your CPA is accurate and does a decent job, but you find yourself wanting more guidance, consultation, strategy, and personalized focus.
If you’re using your parent’s CPA. Full stop.
If your CPA is confused by the questions you’re starting to ask as things scale up for you.
Whatever your reason might be for looking to change accountants, change is always hard. And scary. And that keeps us in unhealthy relationships for longer than we need to be. Amiright?
Let’s start by removing some of the uncertainty that is the underlying cause for that scariness and difficulty. Because when you can see the path, making the change isn’t that complicated after all.
Here’s our three step process for getting you situated with your new accounting firm (whether that’s Revel or someone else):
Make sure the new firm is a good fit.
You’ll want to ask the right questions and interview a few options before making a decision. More than five is probably too many. Less than three is probably too few. And if you could use some help with knowing what to ask, just check out this resource right here. Ask the questions, let them do a lot of the talking. And listen not only for content, but feel. These people will be trusted advisors to you, so they should make you feel confident in their ability. But you’ll also want to enjoy interacting with them, so imaging whether you could spend 15 minutes chatting it up at a cocktail party is also a pretty good test. You’ll also want to know what services they provide and whether they’re scaled appropriately for where you are in your business’ journey. For example, here’s how we think about that at Revel. Understand what they can do for you now, and how they plan to grow with you over time.
Communicate the change.
Your former provider will need to know that you’re moving on once you’ve selected the successor firm. Since you engaged them in the first place, you’re the only one that can let them know. But again, remember that it’s not personal and that changes like this happen. The things to be clear about are: 1) the date that you want their services to end and the new relationship to begin, 2) settling any outstanding fees with them, and 3) confirming how they will be transferring your files to the new firm. They may ask for some feedback, and if you’re so inclined please share it! That’s how we all get better and grow.
Lean on the new firm for help.
The successor firm should be able to help you manage this transition in a number of ways. For example, we have a templated document request form to make that part of the transition easy for you and the former accountants. We’ll list all the types of files that we need, how we want them transmitted to us, etc, so all you have to do is sign and pass it along to the former CPAs. We’ll also check in during the onboarding process to make sure we are transferring access to your accounting files, payroll systems, and other key systems to make sure you close out access to those that don’t need it and transfer it to us.
Hopefully these three clear steps give you some comfort that the transition is a manageable one. And if you’re working with a good accountant, they should support you in making that transition as seamless as possible. Feel free to drop any questions you have about transitions in the comments below!