It’s important to have a great – not just good – relationship with your accountant. They have a big role to play in running your practice, and helping you to build a financial foundation that will allow you to do the things you want to do in life. But if your accountant doesn’t work proactively for the health of your practice, that relationship is broken. Here are a few ways to tell if your accountant is more reactive than proactive – so you know whether you’re getting everything out of the relationship that you should be.
Clearly, if you get to the end of the year and you have a bill from the government for $30,000, something has gone wrong in your accounting. But what?
More than likely what has happened is your accountant isn’t keeping regular tabs on your tax obligations. As the client, you have to be responsible for getting your monthly statements and other financial information to your accountant in a timely manner. If you don’t, they can’t help you. But if you do, and the tax surprise still pops up, then you have a problem.
One way or the other, if your accountant is making decisions based on data from the previous year rather than your dental practice’s current and changing status, your tax bill is not going to be what you expect. Monthly bookkeeping and reporting is absolutely crucial, and if your relationship with your accountant is not a proactive one, you will get hurt.
Anyone in the medical field knows that things are changing fast right now, with the introduction of new rules from the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, if you prefer). But unless you’re an expert on law and finance in addition to dentistry, you probably have some confusion as to how your practice will be affected.
And if you don’t know how to deal with coming changes until they’ve already happened, you’re unlikely to be able to handle them properly. You need to know what’s coming as soon as possible, and how to position yourself to make the most of the new normal. If you can’t get out in front of changes in the law, you’re probably going to end up getting left behind.
Another way this can manifest itself is through communications that aren’t tailored for you. For example, when the Affordable Care Act changes go into effect, your accountant might send an email to all of their clients with information on changes and how they affect dentists. But rather than telling you how your practice is affected, and how you should deal with it, all you get is a generic cookie-cutter response.
You need to know what you need to do, not what Bob the Generic Dentist needs to do. You need counsel that’s specifically geared toward the situation your practice is in, and the goals that you have for the future. Otherwise, you may get off track.
One way or the other, if you aren’t getting what you need out of your relationship with your accountant, you need to either work to sort the relationship out, or find a new accountant. Too much depends on that relationship to allow a dysfunctional one to fester.