Unless prompted, few business owners willingly gush about their accountants. I get it, accountants aren’t always the most affectionate bunch; sometimes referred to as boring or dry. Many consider them a necessary evil, number crunchers or even bean counters. Some business owners learn to love these unique and important consultants, while others dread them. No matter how you feel about accountants, have you ever stopped to wonder what they think about YOU?

Why Your Accountant Hates You

If you step into the life of an accountant, you will quickly realize that it’s no picnic. During tax seasons they work 80-100 hours, 7 days a week. Every year they complete dozens of hours of Continuing Education so they stay up to date on the ever-changing tax laws. They do 80% of their work in 33% of the year. They are constantly reaching out to clients requesting the documents they need to complete tax returns, sometimes two and three (or more) times only to receive said documents on March or April 14th. Some people (like myself) actually have an amazing relationship with their accountant and I consider mine a close friend.

I’m sure when it comes to your clients, there are some you adore and others that make your life miserable. So what’s the difference between the two? It’s more than just being polite, and nice. Manners play a big role, but it takes more than that to be one of your favorites. At the end of the day, it’s the clients that make your job easier, not harder, and who appreciate your value that always rise to the top of the list.

Unfortunately, most of the time clients aren’t even aware of the ramifications their behavior can have. Here are the most common offenders and complaints that we hear and how you can make small changes that will have a HUGE impact on the jobs and relationships of your accountant.

You’re hiding something.

Whatever your motivation (fear, embarrassment, judgment, or something else) chances are you’re a bit worried that your accountant will uncover something. But if you have a good one, chances are they are going to find it… one way or another.

Imagine giving your accountant a jigsaw puzzle, but hiding some of the pieces. When all the available pieces have been put together, it will be glaringly obvious that there is something missing. Now your poor accountant is left searching high and low to find the pieces that you’re keeping from them until they realize that you’re hiding the missing pieces. Isn’t that frustrating?

Instead, the more open, honest, and forthcoming you can be with your accountant, the better it is for everyone. Besides avoiding unnecessary frustration, it might even save you money and time when they don’t have to expend resources playing detective.

You want them to read your mind.

Mind reading isn’t part of the job description, or a service accountants provide. Accountants have a hard time knowing exactly when you need them. Some clients may want to talk monthly, while others are happy with an annual check-in. If you’re miffed that they haven’t reached out, it’s time to pick up the phone before you get all out annoyed, frustrated, and start making accusations.

It’s a great idea to ask a lot of questions and set expectations with your accountant early so they, and you, can prepare for your ideal relationship. As service providers, accountants’ most precious resource is their time, so being clear about how much time they need to invest into the relationship helps to create the scope of work.

You wait until the very last second.

For an accountant to do their job well, they need to be precise, thorough, and meticulous. This takes time and patience which most accountants have, but that’s not always true for business owners. Entrepreneurs who are used to moving at the speed of light can easily be frustrated at the time it takes to get the job done right. When it comes to your numbers, estimates, rounding, and assumptions will get you into big trouble.

Behaviors like waiting to the last minute to turn over documents you’ve had access to for months and forcing quick turnarounds will not only drive your accountant crazy but also leaves room for errors and ultimately, your disappointment. Adding pressure to their process isn’t going to make anything go faster, other than their frustration

To get the best work from your accounting team, be prepared in advance, especially for tax season. The more you procrastinate, the more you force their hands and limit their ability to do exceptional work.

You call at the WORST time.

Everyone knows when tax season is coming, especially your CPA. They plan vacations around it, prepare themselves and their family for it, and put in ungodly hours to get through it- didn’t we mention 7 days a week at 80-100 hours for four months to get all those returns completed and submitted by the IRS deadlines? Predictability is nice, but also challenging when everyone is fighting for time. If you need attention, this is not the time to be a squeaky wheel.

Instead, use the timing to your advantage! Reach out to your accountant during shoulder seasons, and proactively prepare before the mayhem begins. This way you will not only be able to rest easier but get the attention you’re looking for from an accountant who has the bandwidth to focus on your business.

If you’re getting the sense that you may be a repeat offender, that’s OK. Awareness is half the battle. It’s amazing how quickly this will get resolved with a little proactive work, empathy, and compassion!

I find the best clients are the ones that I collaborate with openly. We have mutual respect; they appreciate my work, and I build a passion for their business. That’s why I often say, “Your business is my business.” But not all professional service relationships are built this way. And when it comes to your financial team it may be time to start fresh, whether it’s with a new CPA, switching accountants, or adding a financial consultant Contact My Small Business Pro (before January) to see how we can create processes and systems that will streamline the relationship.