Increasingly, businesses both in the real and virtual world are choosing to employ the help of a CPA Firm. CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and it is in this area, as well as others, that a CPA Firm operates. A CPA Firm can provide services to your business that may negate the necessity of employing a full-time employee who provides the same services.
What Is A CPA Firm?
A CPA Firm is a type of accounting firm that counts amongst its employees at least one Certified Public Accountant. To become a CPA individuals are required to take a course of approximately 150 hours and to pass an exam set by the AICPA in order to achieve CPA certification. Once they have this certification any accounting firm he or she is employed for has earned the right to be called a CPA Firm. In reality, any CPA Firm of any size will employ more than one CPA and these will often hold senior positions within the Firm, frequently owning it. A CPA Firm does not generally work with the general public but with businesses and provides a variety of services. The most known of these services is auditing, but this is not all a CPA Firm may be responsible for.
How CPA Firms Add “Value” and What They Do
There are many ways a CPA Firm can add value to your company through their financial and commercial knowledge and through the services that they offer. Some CPA Firms offer many different business services, while many others choose to focus on just the one or two business areas in which they use their expertise is the highest, and their experience the longest.
Some of the services any CPA Firm may offer include:
• Tax Services
A CPA Firm will, if employed to do so, file tax returns annually for any business. They will ensure that these tax returns are clear, accurate and fulfill all government requirements both at a local and national level, however complicated these requirements may be or however time-consuming they may be to adhere to. In addition, a CPA Firm is able to offer help and advice on all tax issues to ensure that any business is paying only as much business tax as is necessary and is taking advantage of any tax breaks or tax incentives available. This tax accounting service is obviously an extremely valuable service to businesses that may not employ a full-time tax accountant of their own or those who wish to avail themselves off a CPA Firm’s tax expert’s advice, in addition to retaining their own employee.
Any company working abroad would be well advised to take advantage of a reputable CPA Firm in order to better comply with the local rules and regulations that will almost certainly differ from those in the company’s home country.
• Auditing Services
A CPA Firm can provide assistance in submitting the annual auditing reports required of Public Traded Firms. Indeed, more than mere assistance, a CPA Firm can complete, accurately, the auditing report in its entirety. When using a reputable CPA Firm you can be assured that all auditing reports will be submitted in a timely manner and adhere precisely to all government requirements. A CPA Firm can also provide advice on how to better stream line the company’s business processes and how to keep the books accurate and current.
• Internal Employee Benefits Reviews
A CPA Firm can provide a review of employee benefits and suggest ways in which these may be optimized. These employee benefits might include healthcare, insurance, pension plans and the like. This review may provide ways to improve benefits and/or reduce expenditure on these areas.
• Consulting Services
Some CPA Firms offer business consulting advice. CPA Firms may have among their employees consultants experienced in management, new product design, infrastructure, restructuring and indeed most other business areas. Again, using a reputable CPA Firm for business consulting advice and instruction can prove highly beneficial to any business interested in maximizing their profit and/or streamlining their processes or organization.
The CPA “Seal of Approval”
Many individuals, and also some businesses, are still wary of conducting financial transactions over the internet. They are perhaps right to be wary as this is still a relatively new way of doing business and is not as strictly regulated as perhaps it could be. The top issues/fear amongst consumers is primarily a fear of fraud. This is because most financial transactions conducted online require the use of a credit card and involve the disclosure of a certain amount of personal information. In order to quell these worries amongst consumers and to increase and promote safe, lawful financial activity online, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has introduced the CPA Webtrust Seal of Approval. The AICPA is the same body that administrates the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination that is necessary to become a CPA and is the primary regulatory body for all American CPA firms.
Online businesses, primarily retailers, can choose to have their financial transaction process examined and reviewed by AICPA members. The AICPA conducts a survey of the business’s financial transaction processes; the speed of goods delivery; their warranty procedures and legality; and other areas of the business. If all financial transactions are found to be safe, secure and above board then the AICPA will issue a CPA “Seal of approval” which the businesses can then display on the home page of their website. The hope is that this reputable seal will help to reassure the customer that their financial transactions are safe and secure and that all their personal information will remain confidential. The CPA Webtrust “Seal of Approval” is essentially the mark of a reputable company.
FASB Auditing and Certification
The Financial Accounting Standard Board, or FASB, is part of the AICPA and provides universal guidelines to be used in financial accounting and by CPA Firms. This helps ensure that the industry operates under the same standards as a whole and that it provides similar levels of service across the board. The goal of the FASB is to ensure that any CPA Firm adheres to the standard it has set in order that any FASB certification is reliable and continues to enjoy a reputation for quality.
If you own a business then you should seriously consider whether or not a CPA Firm could help you. Considering the vast number of areas that CPA Firms operate in, it is likely that you could benefit from their advice. A reputable CPA firm may be able to help you by simply pointing out ways to lower your business tax; by performing tasks you are unable to perform yourself or find to time-consuming; or by offering consulting advice on a number of business areas. Choose your CPA firm carefully, perhaps on a recommendation, to ensure that you get the best possible value for your money. Also ensure that the CPA Firm you employ has experts in the particular area you are interested in, as not all CPA Firms provide a full range of services but may choose to focus on just one area. Obviously, an associate versus a CPA will be much less expensive, but may offer the same value for your particular needs. Be sure to have a candid conversation with the CPA firm’s sales manager before an associate actually shows up at your business. This will help manage expectations on both sides and ultimately save you money.