Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT ACCOUNTANT 6. CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS If you have unusual accounting problems in your practice, you should look for an accountant with specialized training or experience. "If you ever fi nd yourself in need of an outside audit for your practice, additional designations such as Certifi ed Fraud Examiner (CFE) would be helpful," Fulbright says. Perhaps you have limited experience in personal fi nancial management and would like to explore the possibility of increasing your investment portfolio. "An accountant who is also a Certifi ed Financial Planner (CFP) would be a good choice when you need investment/portfolio advice," Fulbright says. "The biggest problem many small practitioners have is stepping back to take the time to evaluate their business," says CPA Carol Katz of Baltimore, Maryland. "They're so busy running the practice and keeping up with the paperwork that they don't allow enough time to plan ahead. You should always consult with your accountant before entering into any signifi cant business or fi nancial transaction. Undoing a poorly thought-out transaction or removing assets from an entity without causing unnecessary taxes can cost much more than the time spent on a planning meeting and document review." "The nature of many small professional practices requires owners to consider succession planning," DiAntonio says. "Generally, succession planning consists of either transferring the practice to the next generation or selling it outright to a third party or an employee. This is often one of the most signifi cant events of a practitioner's life and should be planned appropriately by a trusted advisor. "Typically, a CPA who knows the practice and its assets can bring additional value to a potential sale or transfer. Also, once the business is converted into cash or a revenue stream, a fi nancial planner can assist the client in maintaining and growing the client's wealth." 7. DON'T FEAR CHANGE Despite your best efforts, you may fi nd yourself working with an accountant who isn't right for you. If this happens, experts say you should not hesitate to look for a replacement. Your accountant is too important to your success for you to compromise. Massage professionals should continually review where they are in the life cycle of their professional careers. "They may need to change the business form of the entity as their business grows," Katz says. Some practitioners may need tax-savvy ways to bring in family members to whom the business may eventually be transferred. If there is no succession planned, there probably should be a proposed structure for eventual sale of the practice, including buy/sell agreements among partners. "If the accountant used when the practice was small seems ineffective, then it may be time to move to another with more expertise," DiAntonio says. Finding the right accountant for your practice may take a special effort, but the time you spend may well prove to be among your most profi table investments. William J. Lynott has an extensive background in management consulting, marketing, and fi nance. He's written more than 900 articles appearing in a wide range of consumer magazines, trade publications, and newspapers in 17 countries. Contact him at lynott@verizon.net. www.abmp.com. See what benefits await you. 83

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