A CPA is a financial ninja —waging war against disorder and making sense of every invoice, spreadsheet, and tax liability in your business. CPAs provide an invaluable service to your company, but sooner or later you will have to get down to brass tacks and throw out a number when it comes time to hire one. So how much should you pay your outsourced CPA? Let’s find out.
What a CPA Actually Is
Having a CPA indicates a level of proficiency for accounting responsibilities and tax filing that comes with years of experience, a relevant bachelor’s degree, 150 semester hours of education, and a passing grade on the notoriously difficult Uniform CPA Exam (the average passing rate in 2021 was under 50% for all four exam sections.)
The level of expertise they bring extends to all aspects of accounting and business. That means CPAs can hold a number of positions — as either employees or outsourced vendors — and it’s the role they fill that determines their compensation.
The Best Roles for CPAs Tax Specialist
Tax prep and filing are a CPA's bread and butter. In fact, CPAs are required to undergo continuing education so that they're always up-to-date on changes to the tax code. Hiring a CPA to do your taxes is always a smart decision: not only will they know about the deductions that can save your business money, but the amount of time and brainpower they'll save you are well worth the expense. CPAs generally charge $150-$250 per hour for corporate tax filing and may charge a minimum fee for their services. The final price will ultimately depend on many variables, including the type of business, the size, and bookkeeping organization (unorganized finances will obviously take a CPA longer to sort through and collect information from).
Accountants, generally speaking, keep track of and report on the finances of a business. In smaller organizations they may also be responsible for payroll. They’ll use financial software to create a picture of cash coming in and going out of the business (Cash Flow), revenues and expenses (Income Statement) and assets, liabilities and equity (Balance Sheet). Having an accountant manage your books means you’ll be better prepared when seeking equity, getting a loan, or gaining insight into your business’s financial performance. Average bookkeeping fees can run from $70-$120 per hour according to the National Society of Accountants. These rates vary based on a number of factors, such as the general size of your business, the number of employees, and the type of business (Sole Proprietor, LLC, etc) your company is organized as.
A financial auditor conducts deep dives into a business’s books and records to verify that what the accountant created is accurate. They can do that by looking at receipts, invoices, etc. as well as by evaluating internal processes and controls. Audits are generally required when an outside interest, like a bank or governmental agency, requires a transparent and verified account of all of a business’s finances. The average cost for an audit depends on the size and complexity of your organization. How much your company might need to pay depends on a number of factors, but CPAs generally charge around $150/hr for audits.
Controller, Account Executive, or CFO
A controller often functions like a company’s head accountant. A CFO, however, is more involved with planning, finance strategy, and raising funds. While they’re two different sets of obligations, in smaller companies, the duties of a controller and CFO often fall on one person (and when they are separate, the controller reports to the CFO). Liquid’s discussed the benefits of outsourcing your CFO, especially when you’re an agile business looking to forge ahead in a bear market. And one of the biggest benefits is cost savings – while full-time CFOs for SMBs can run over $300,000 per year, outsourced CFOs can cost $30,000-$70,000. Additionally, CFOs who have a number of clients in your field may be able to cross-pollinate cost-saving strategies and best practices they’ve observed elsewhere.
Staying Agile With Liquid
The way people work is evolving, and Liquid is ready to help your business make the most of it. Liquid gives companies the power to manage their flexible, global team of contractors and vendors. From spend controls and cash forecasts to automated invoicing and one-button invoice payments, Liquid gives your business a complete suite of powerful tools to prepare you for that next opportunity. Contact Liquid for an in-person demo today.