Business owner are not always clear on the different roles that CFO’s and CPA’s play in the development of effective tax strategies. It probably doesn’t help that many CFO’s have the CPA designation after their name. There are two distinct and different roles.
CPA’s provide the technical expertise in two specific areas – Compliance, i.e. taxes and Attest, i.e. compilations, reviews and audits of financial statements. CPA’s are trained and certified to perform these services. Can and do they do more? Yes, but these two services are their primary roles. Many either focus on compliance or attest work and specialize in particular area of service (e.g. international taxes, or forensic auditing). Putting the attest services aside, a great CPA needs to know enough about the peculiarities of the clients’ business to advise on an advantageous application of the relevant tax rules and regulations to that business. The problem is often that CPA isn’t always aware of changes in the company, its situation and its direction.
CFO’s are primarily responsible for managing the financial risks of a company, its financial planning, record keeping and reporting. The CFO needs to have a deep understanding of the peculiarities of the company’s business and know enough about relevant tax rules and regulations to recognize potential opportunities for tax planning. The CFO needs to actively communicate these opportunities to the CPA and be able to understand and apply the advice from the CPA.
Each has their unique role and talents. Together, the CPA and the CFO can forge a powerful and effective team that implements an effective tax strategy.
Long Beach resident, Jim Bateman is a partner in B2B CFO, a business advisory firm that is focused on helping small and medium private business achieve a higher level of success. Bateman is currently serving as an affordable as-needed CFO for several Southern California companies. He previously spent 30 years in financial and operational management positions with companies and, since 2008 has been providing affordable and effective CFO advisory services to several Southern California enterprises in the transportation, merchandising, manufacturing, marketing and services industries. Contact Jim Bateman at firstname.lastname@example.org