Making the Move: How to switch accountants
If you are ready to switch accountants you have already gone through the process of realizing you need to change your accountant, have interviewed and selected your new one and are now ready to make the move.
For some people this step can be intimidating.
They are a little worried about having "that conversation" with their previous advisor. The fact is however, that your new accountant should be taking care of the majority of the transition for you and should be a source of support throughout the whole process.
Here is a quick overview of the entire process from start to finish!
Step 1: Make it official
You will provide the contact information of your previous accountant to your new accountant as soon as you have signed a new engagement letter with them. Typically you are included in that first email. CPA (professional body regulating accountants) has certain guidelines when accountants take over a file from one another. They will normally send a formal letter informing the predecessor that they have been approached to be engaged and will request any relevant information as well as any reason why the client should not be accepted.
Step 2: Pass on all relevant documents
Your new accountant will need several, previous year financials and returns, as well as any other relevant documentation (e.g., recent CRA audit documentation, correspondence with authorities, etc., trial balances and supporting work where applicable. There are cases where schedules prepared by the previous accountant as part of their work will not be accessible as it is their intellectual property. However anything provided by you as client, third parties, tax authorities, etc., should be provided with you authorization if requested by the new accountant.
The new accountant will ask you to authorize them as representative for CRA (and other authorities where applicable). This is necessary for them to get critical information. However, make sure you confirm with the previous accountant that they will cancel their access to your data - or ask your new accountant to do this for you if you prefer.
In fact, your new accountant should be taking care of the majority of the transition for you and should be a source of support throughout the whole process
Step 3: Communicate the change to any relevant stakeholders
Inform any other service providers, family members, third parties of the change. For example if you have a bookkeeper (in-house or external), they will likely need to have direct contact with the new accountant. Any lawyers engaged in you business or personal finances will need to be informed that they will now be communicating about you or your business with a new person (and potentially that they should no longer discuss it with the predecessor without your consent).
Step 4: Getting into the new flow
Ask your new accountant who you will be dealing with on their team - whether it’s them directly, someone else, or several persons. Take down the contact information and ask to be introduced before crunch-time. Ask whom you should contact for different questions (e.g., scheduling appointments, submitting information, tax questions, finance questions, billing, technical support, etc.)
Lozynsky CPA is a boutique, full service accounting firm proudly serving clients in Southern Ontario. We specialize in helping business owners and their families achieve their financial goals. At the heart of everything we do is helping you define and achieve success.