You’ve probably read the title and are now asking, “But wait, aren’t you a CPA?”. Ok, you got me. I am certainly a CPA but I feel that it is my duty to equip you with as much information as possible so that you are able to make an informed decision for your business and personal needs. Whether or not you truly need a CPA, is based on a lot of different factors. Even if you don’t need a CPA, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you want the competence, education, and experience that comes with working with one. To help you decide, here are a few things that you need to know. 

Let’s start with the basics. What is a CPA? A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a designation (not job title) provided to licensed accounting professionals (and it is not an easy designation to come by). In order to obtain this status, one must complete at least a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university as well as 150 credit hours in accounting and business. Additionally, prospective CPA’s are also required to have 1-2 years of relevant work experience where they report to a current CPA. Sounds like a lot? Well, it isn’t over yet. First comes education and experience. Then comes the exam. Prospective CPA’s must show a high level of competency in four parts of The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination – Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). 

It should be fairly easy to see why CPAs are considered the “gold standard” of the accounting profession. I mean, look at all that has to be accomplished before gaining the designation. If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe this will – Did you know that less than 50% of people that sit for the CPA exam actually pass it? This should tell you that this exam is no walk in the park and those of us that do pass it really desire to be in this line of business. Or… we’re competitive and love proving others wrong. 😆While I am dropping statistical gems, let me leave you with another one. Did you also know that less than 2% of Certified Public Accountants are Black? Ponder on that. There is clearly a HUGE racial disparity in the accounting world and we need to address it by… wait… I digress…. (this is a blog for a different day). 

Alright. Back on track. We have defined what a CPA is and we’ve shed light on how they got there. When you hear the term CPA, do you instantly think of it as a job title? Don’t be ashamed; most people have those same thoughts. The term CPA is a designation, not a job position. Similar to PhD, EA, and/or Esq., it shows an education/certification level that has been achieved by an individual. CPA’s aren’t automatically tax preparers, bookkeepers, or CFO’s. Likewise, people in those roles may not have CPA behind their name. It is important to keep in mind that CPA’s are not all created equal and they are able to choose their own path. Think about a medical doctor for instance. They attend medical school and go through years of clinical training with a cohort of peers who may not end up working in the same type of medicine (or hospital unit) . When it is all said and done, these students (turned doctors), choose where and how they want to use their skills. Some may choose to work in pediatric or cardiothoracic units while others may decide on general medicine. Like medical doctors, CPA’s can choose to work in a variety of roles depending on their interests. 

I know that I’ve given you a lot of information to digest. I also know that at this point I still have not answered your million dollar question – “Do I need a CPA?” I have the answer for you! The answer is…. It depends. 🙅 Sorry. Just like most services, whether or not you need a CPA will depend on the complexity of your business and tax needs. Furthermore, you may find yourself working with more than one CPA at a given time. Remember when I said that CPAs can work in a variety of roles? Well, here is that logic put into play. You may have a complex tax issue arise and you decide to work with a CPA that specializes in these issues. On the flip side, you’re ready to scale and take your business to the next level. The CPA who is helping you through your tax issue may not be able to offer the best advice and recommendations for growing your business. In cases like this, you may find yourself relying on CFO services that specialize in strategy and making data driven decisions. 

Considering all that I have shared, the best piece of advice I have for you is to always consider your needs first. From there, choose your accounting professional and/or CPA based on their experience with your issue and their understanding of what you want to accomplish. Hiring a CPA may not be the move that you need to make. I know that “CPA”  sounds fancy and we love a good title, but the designation is truly just the icing on the competence cake. 

Right Choice Accounting Solutions is proudly a black owned, CPA led outsourced accounting and tax firm. Right Choice offers a one-stop shop accounting and tax solution that covers high level strategy, accounting insights & analysis, financial statement preparation, tax planning and preparation, basic bookkeeping, and much more. Schedule your FREE intro call TODAY to learn more about what makes us the Right Choice for your accounting and tax needs.

Keywords: Accounting, Tax, Black Owned, CFO Services, Accounting Solutions, CPA, Certified Public Accountant, Disparity, Licensed Accounting Professionals, The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination , Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), EA, Bookkeeper, Tax Preparer