The search for Houston CPA tax preparation services has evolved over the years. Today, there are more options, and working with a CPA who is not local is becoming more more of a norm. I’ve been a CPA since 2012 and decided to hang my own shingle up in 2017. I’m a proud local Houston CPA and am of course biased when it comes to determining whether going with a local CPA is your best option. In this article, I’ll do my best to make the case for deciding to use a Houston CPA for your business or personal taxes.
Your Options: The Houston CPA Landscape
In my career, I’ve worked for the Big 4, a large local, and a small local. Furthermore, I have experience when it comes to being a “remote CPA” as we have a few clients that are not located in the Houston area. I mention all of this because this section will be based on my experiences. Specifically, I will be discussing your options when it comes to working with a local CPA and some of the attributes of those options.
Houston comprises the full range of options when it comes to CPA firms. It is home to the “Big 4” international firms, regional firms, local firms, and sole props. I’ve listed some advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. “Big 4” International Firms
- Examples: Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG.
- Global Reach: Can handle tax and accounting matters in multiple countries.
- Broad Expertise: Offer a wide range of services beyond just accounting, including consulting, audit, and advisory services.
- Reputation: Prestigious firms that can add credibility to a company’s financial statements.
- Cost: Typically more expensive than smaller firms.
- Less Personal Attention: Clients might not receive as much one-on-one attention due to the firm’s size.
- Potential Overqualification: Might be overkill for a small business with straightforward accounting needs.
2. Regional Firms
- Local Expertise with Wider Reach: Understand local regulations but also have expertise in broader regional matters.
- More Personalized than Big 4: Offer more tailored services and closer client relationships.
- Diverse Service Offerings: Often provide a range of services, though perhaps not as extensive as the Big 4.
- Limited Global Presence: Might not have the international reach of the Big 4.
- Cost: Can be more expensive than local firms or sole proprietors.
3. Local Firms
- Deep Local Expertise: Understand local tax laws, regulations, and business environments intimately.
- Personalized Service: Clients often receive more attention and tailored advice.
- Cost-Effective: Typically less expensive than regional or Big 4 firms.
- Limited Geographical Expertise: Primarily focused on local regulations and might not be well-versed in broader regional or international matters.
- Narrower Service Range: Might not offer as diverse a range of services as larger firms.
4. Sole Proprietors (Individual CPAs)
- Highly Personalized Service: Direct one-on-one relationship with the CPA.
- Flexibility: Often more flexible in terms of availability and service offerings.
- Cost-Effective: Typically the most affordable option.
- Limited Capacity: Might not handle a large volume of work or complex accounting tasks as efficiently.
- Narrow Expertise: The expertise is limited to the knowledge of the individual CPA.
- Lack of Continuity: If the sole CPA is unavailable (e.g., vacation, illness), there might be delays.
In conclusion, the best choice depends on the specific needs, budget, and preferences of the client. A multinational corporation with operations in multiple countries might lean towards a Big 4 firm, while a local small business might find a sole proprietor or local firm more suitable.
The Local Advantage
Local firms have the expertise and bandwidth to service companies making less than $50,000,000 in my experience.
At JAG CPA & Co. we service clients making up to $40mm+ and with operations in multiple states. We’re a local firm, but my prior experience gives us a knowledge base that we can utilize for smaller businesses. This results in the “local experience” with “big firm expertise”.
The local advantage is the quality of the relationship which results in your CPA developing deeper knowledge of your business.
Furthermore, another complaint I have heard from clients that worked with a bigger firm is the turnover rate. Big firms are known for their large turnover rates which can means working with another person year to year.
This makes it hard to develop enduring relationships and history between a CPA and small business owner which are key to long-term success.
Real Life Success Stories
Recently, we picked up a client from a regional firm. The client was having issues with service delivery and were looking to get some help. As discussed above, there was lack of communication, inconsistency in who was their service lead, and lack of service delivery. The latter probably had to do more with order of priority and in a regional setting, a $10,000 client is at the bottom of the hierarchy in terms of value to the firm. Whereas at a local firm a $10,000 client is considered blue chip and treated accordingly.
Nonetheless, we were able to perform the service they needed in a timely manner and at a fraction of what they were paying. This is not because I consider my firm a “cost leader”, but more so because we don’t have a lot of overhead and can price effectively and still make a good margin.
I could give more examples, but the stories all share the same pattern. Higher fees and less service. Again, this is based on my experience and feedback. Of course, this is not indicative of everyone’s experience, but is a testament of the feedback that I have received.
Summing it all up!
In conclusion, the landscape of CPA tax preparation services in Houston is vast and varied, offering options for businesses and individuals of all sizes and needs. From the global reach of the Big 4 to the personalized touch of sole proprietors, each option has its unique advantages and challenges. However, the undeniable value of a local firm, especially one like JAG CPA & Co., lies in its ability to combine the expertise of a large firm with the personal touch and cost-effectiveness of a smaller entity. The deep relationships formed with local firms ensure continuity, understanding, and a tailored approach to your business needs.
Real-life testimonials underscore the importance of these relationships, highlighting the pitfalls of impersonal, high-turnover firms and the benefits of a consistent, dedicated CPA who understands the intricacies of your business. At JAG CPA & Co., we pride ourselves on offering the best of both worlds: the knowledge and expertise of a big firm, with the personal touch and affordability of a local provider.
Book a consultation at jagcpa.com today and experience the difference a dedicated, local CPA can make for your business or personal tax needs.
About The Author
Joe is s a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) and a Certified Valuation Analyst (C.V.A.). Joe’s professional career in public accounting began in 2012 with one of the “Big 4” international accounting firms. Since 2012, the focus of his professional engagements has been primarily in the area of business tax planning, cash flow planning and management, business valuations, and small business financial consulting.