Finding the Right Accounting Firm for Your Family Office
February 25, 2022
An accounting firm for your family office provides essential financial support to ultra-high-net-worth families, which is why it pays to work with an experienced team.
Family offices’ special tax and finance needs make finding a professional who understands complex accounting critical. But not all accountants are qualified to advise family offices, even if they’re brilliant with numbers. So, what else should you keep in mind during your search?
Let’s start with the basics. Here are three things to keep in mind when looking for a CPA/accounting firm for your family office.
Experience should be the top consideration for hiring an accounting firm for your family office. But the type of experience matters. After all, while credentials are important, they’re not the be-all and end-all of choosing the right CPA.
- Prior family office experience: Ultra-high-net-worth families are unique entities that require a trusted business partner capable of managing your entire back office. A CPA firm with extensive prior experience working with family offices will be up to the job.
- Hands-on business experience: CPAs with experience running their own businesses have spent a considerable amount of time working in pressurized environments. This on-the-ground experience is critical to their ability to perform well when the stakes are high and fulfill your unique, and often complex, tax needs.
- Succession planning experience: A capable CPA/accounting firm for your family office also has experience in succession planning. As a multigenerational family office, your long-term financial vision should always be top of mind. A CPA that is proactive and able to contribute to decisions and planning around transfers of leadership will deliver lasting value to your family.
- Knowledgeable in complex finances: The right family office accounting services are led by CPAs that are able—and even eager—to navigate complex financial scenarios. It’s rare to find a firm with leaders who actually get excited about complex tax situations! And a CPA with a passion for digging into complicated accounting cases will inevitably invest more effort into serving their clients.
- Experience with commercial real estate investing and development: Since the tax implications of commercial real estate investing and development require constant monitoring, it’s important for a CPA to have deep expertise in this area. Proactive family office accounting services providers will closely monitor investment and development involvements all year long—and not just visit your portfolio at tax time. They’ll approach you with ideas to save your family money and protect their interests throughout the year. For example, such CPAs will understand that rising construction costs in 2021 have impacted commercial property values and proactively advise clients to update the market value of their properties with their insurance provider to avoid coinsurance penalties.
As an ultra-high-net-worth family invested in multiple assets and industries, you never know when an opportunity to make money will arise. A CPA who regularly communicates with you will not only help you take advantage of these opportunities, but may actually bring them to your attention in the first place. You should never struggle to contact your family office accounting firm; they should be readily available to ensure that you’re on the same page at all times.
As the leader of a family office, it’s hard to have peace of mind when you don’t trust your accounting professionals. Ongoing, consistent communication is the first step in building that trust. You should have no doubt that your accountant is closely monitoring your financial interests—and the best way to demonstrate this is to keep you constantly informed of your financial performance and educate you on opportunities for improvement. A skilled family office CPA is an essential business partner, and partners work together. This requires constant, effective communication, often coordinating decisions and communication with multiple stakeholders.
CPAs delivering family office accounting services must demonstrate commitment to your family as a high-priority client. Commitment comes in many different forms, but at eeCPA we define it as being committed to delivering high-quality service at all times. This includes providing end-to-end back office support, offering straightforward pricing, and submitting consistently on-time monthly financial statements. The most important commitment a CPA/accounting firm for your family office can make, though, is to information. You should never have to ask your CPA to provide you with all the information you need to make the best financial decisions for your family. Client education makes the CPA partnership even stronger, paving the way for more creative ideas for saving money and maximizing profits.
Commitment to service also means diligence and constant attention to changing financial situations and regulations. Accountants who only makes themselves available to you during tax season are not equipped to offer this type of support. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead, your family office CPA came to you mid-year with an out-of-the-box idea specific to your portfolio? Saving money is not a once-a-year endeavor, and a diligent CPA will not approach it that way.
Here at eeCPA, we exemplify the deep experience, consistent communication, and commitment to service that family offices require as they navigate complex finance and tax situations. We’re proud to redefine what a family office accounting services partnership looks like for ultra-high-net-worth families. If you’re currently looking for a proactive CPA partner, we’d love to speak with you! [link to Contact page]