• Is the individual a certifies public accountant?
  • Is the CPA licensed to practice in you state?
  • To what professional organizations does the CPA belong and how active is he or she in those organizations
  • Are your needs compatible with the CPAs personality and expertise?

Don’t underestimate the importance of the CPA designation. Remember, those three letters are awarded only to those individuals who have passed a rigorous two-day uniform national examination.

In addition, CPAs are distinguished from other accountants by stringent state licensing requirements. Most states require CPAs to have at least a college degree or its equivalent, but several also require post-graduate work.

Membership is professional organizations is also an important qualification. For example, over 310,000 CPAs belong to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). All AICPA members are governed by a code of professional ethics which is among the most exacting of any profession. What’s more, their firms must undergo a review of their accounting and auditing practice once every three years.

AICPA members must also satisfy extensive continuing education requirements. And starting in the year 2000, new members will be required to have completed 150 semester-hours of higher education prior to joining the Institute.

Compatibility, the last qualification to look for in a CPA, is harder to define but is just as important as technical proficiency. Make sure that the CPAs personality and expertise match your needs.

Keep in mind that a long-term working relationship between you and your CPA can help you take an informed, consistent approach to personal financial and business problems – and may help you meet your financial goals.