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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Sep 8, 2012.


I am a new Sarasota, FL resident. I have never used a CPA, but feel I now need one to transition my residency from VA to FL. How do I screen CPAs to select the best for my needs?


That depends on the services you are seeking.  Some basic steps to select a quality advisor, such as a CPA/PFS, are as follows: 

1)  Focus on qualifications, not the best sales pitch.  The personal dynamic certainly can play a role during your screening.  However, the more objective your process, the better.  Fees should also be disclosed. 

2)  Request all information that would influence your selection decision in writing, such as, credentials, compliance record, certifications, experience, licensing, etc.

3)  Use the internet and online lists, such as to locate and research the CPAs you would like to interview.

4)  Interview several advisors with a 2 meeting process.  That way you should be able to identify differences in the services provided to determine the best fit for your needs.  Develop a list of questions and send it to the CPA/PFS's in advance so you are both prepared for the interviews, limiting the time to 1 hour per meeting.  Make sure they are aware of the time limit and answer every question.

5)  Make your final decision by focusing on advisor competence, ethics, and business practices.  The more objective you are throughout the entire process, the better chance you will have of selecting the best professional for your needs.

Best wishes with your search and relocation.

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