IRS People First Initiative

Selecting a Trusted Advisor

CPAs & Advisors

Jessica Rolfe
Jessica Rolfe CPA Principal CPAs & Advisors

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As the way we conduct business continues to change at a rapid pace due to technology, political changes, and changes in standards, one must stop and look at whether the services an organization needs are being adequately provided. Selecting a trusted advisor is one of those needs that can sometimes be overlooked. Nonprofits often ask us how they should go about selecting a trusted advisor, whether it is for legal services, accounting services, human resource support, banking, investing or something else.

Keep the following factors in mind when considering a relationship with a trusted advisor.

Reputation – Ask around. Nonprofits are a very connected group. They talk and work together regularly to better serve their programs and communities. Reach out to other nonprofits and ask who they are using. What do they like and dislike? Who would they recommend and why?

Specializations – Who specializes in what you need? A lawyer may be very well known and successful in their field, but they may not serve any nonprofit organizations or be familiar with the nonprofit experience your organization needs. Look for advisors who specialize in nonprofit organizations and the matters with which you need assistance.

Willingness to serve – Is the advisor willing to coach and advise? A true advisor helps your organization grow. Are you getting the most out of the relationship? Advisors should not only want to complete the task at hand, but look for ways to improve and better serve the organization and their mission going forward. You want advisors who are looking into the future and not just analyzing the past.

Fees – While we would all like to have the best and brightest advisor, nonprofits are often mindful of the price tag. The organization is trying to do the most with limited funds to fulfill its programs and help those in need. Therefore, it’s imperative to ask about fees and compare. Be sure to inquire how fees are charged for a quick phone call or email. Some advisors charge for every minute and others may include those quick, one-time questions that come up throughout the year as part of their normal fees. Like many things in the consumer world, be aware that you often get what you pay for, so find the balance between fees and services that works best for the nonprofit. Too, remember that if your information is organized and accurate, fees will likely be less.

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